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Assessing the benefits of composting poultry manure in reducing antimicrobial residues, pathogenic bacteria, and antimicrobial resistance genes: a field-scale study

Abstract

The poultry industry in the European Union produces 13 million tons of manure annually, which represents a major health and environmental challenge. Composting is an environmental-friendly technique for the management of manure, but there are few studies about antibiotic residues and antimicrobial resistances at a field scale. The goal of this study was to determine if the composting of poultry manure at a field scale would result in the reduction of antibiotic residues, pathogenic bacteria, and antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) in the final fertilizer product. A 10-week composting of poultry manure spiked with enrofloxacin, doxycycline, and ciprofloxacin was performed. The determination of antibiotics residues and 22 selected ARGs was carried out together with the identification of bacteria by metagenomics. In the case of ciprofloxacin and doxycycline, a 90% decrease was observed after composting for 3 weeks. Sixteen ARGs were detected at the beginning of the experiment; 12 of them decreased from week 0 to week 10 (reduction of 73.7–99.99%). The presence of potentially pathogenic bacteria, such as, Campylobacter coli or commensal bacteria such as Escherichia coli decreases along the composting process. In conclusion, 10-week composting of poultry manure promotes the reduction of antibiotic residues and most of the ARGs and pathogenic bacteria.

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Acknowledgments

The authors also want to thank Elena Neves for her technical support.

Funding

This work has been funded by the Spanish Government (RTA2014-00012).

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Correspondence to Fernando Esperón.

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Esperón, F., Albero, B., Ugarte-Ruíz, M. et al. Assessing the benefits of composting poultry manure in reducing antimicrobial residues, pathogenic bacteria, and antimicrobial resistance genes: a field-scale study. Environ Sci Pollut Res 27, 27738–27749 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-020-09097-1

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Keywords

  • Antimicrobial resistance
  • Antibiotics
  • Avian manure
  • Composting
  • Metagenomics analysis
  • Risk assessment