Although livestock operations are known to harbor elevated levels of antibiotic resistant bacteria, few studies have examined the potential of livestock waste lagoons to reduce antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs). The purpose of this study was to determine the prevalence and examine the behavior of tetracycline [tet(O) and tet(W)] and sulfonamide [sul(I) and su/(II)] ARGsin a broad cross-section of livestock lagoons within the same semiarid western watershed. ARGs were monitored for one year in the water and the settled solids of eight lagoon systems by quantitative polymerase chain reaction. In addition, antibiotic residues and various bulk water quality constituents were analyzed. It was found that the lagoons of the chicken layer operation had the lowest concentrations of both tet and sul ARGs and low total antibiotic concentrations, whereas su ARGs were highest in the swine lagoons, which generally corresponded to the highest total antibiotic concentrations. A marginal benefit of organic and small dairy operations also was observed compared to conventional and large dairies, respectively. In all lagoons, su ARGs were observed to be generally more recalcitrant than tet ARGs. Also, positive correlations of various bulk water quality constituents were identified with tet ARGs but not sul ARGs. Significant positive correlations were identified between several metals and tet ARGs, but Pearson's correlation coefficients were mostly lower than those determined between antibiotic residues and ARGs. This study represents a quantitative characterization of ARGs in lagoons across a variety of livestock operations and provides insight into potential options for managing antibiotic resistance emanating from agricultural activities. ?? 2010 American Chemical Society.
Additional publication details
Tet and sul antibiotic resistance genes in livestock lagoons of various operation type, configuration, and antibiotic occurrence