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Distribution, dynamics and determinants of antibiotics in soils in a peri-urban area of Yangtze River Delta, Eastern China

Zhao, Fangkai, Chen, Liding, Yang, Lei, Li, Shoujuan, Sun, Long, Yu, Xinwei
Chemosphere 2018 v.211 pp. 261-270
Actinobacteria, anthropogenic activities, bioaccumulation, biodegradation, chlortetracycline, clarithromycin, cropland, enrofloxacin, environmental factors, forests, humans, orchards, organic matter, river deltas, seasonal variation, soil depth, soil pH, sulfonamides, summer, topsoil, watersheds, winter, China, Yangtze River
Antibiotics are increasingly recognized as anthropogenic contaminants in soils, and they can persist through a complex vicious cycle of transformation and bioaccumulation. In this study, we quantified 11 quinolones (QNs), 5 sulfonamides (SAs), 5 macrolides (MLs), and 4 tetracyclines (TCs) in soils at three soil layers (0–10, 10–20, 20–40 cm) in a typical peri-urban catchment in the Yangtze River Delta, Eastern China. The results showed that total antibiotic levels were significantly higher in cropland topsoil (p < 0.05) compared to orchards and forests (p < 0.05). Moreover, a significant seasonal variation for antibiotic concentrations in croplands’ topsoil were observed in the summer (50.59 ± 84.55 ng/g) and winter (112.44 ± 140.58 ng/g). Chlortetracycline (15.30 ± 45.44 ng/g), enrofloxacin (0.43 ± 0.93 ng/g), sulfamethazine (0.05 ± 0.02 ng/g) and clarithromycin (0.03 ± 0.03 ng/g) were detected with the highest frequencies within TCs, QNs, SAs, and MLs, respectively. Concentrations of TCs, QNs, and SAs decreased with increasing soil depth. The concentrations of TCs, QNs, and SAs were significantly affected by the intensity of human activities. According to the results of redundancy analysis (RDA), anthropogenic effects on the distribution of antibiotics in soils in winter were so strong that they dwarfed the effects of environmental factors. In summer, human activities and their interactions with environmental factors were the dominant contributors to variations in soil antibiotics. In addition, the results of RDA suggested that soil pH and organic matter closely correlated with the levels of antibiotics, and Actinobacteria was the predominant contributor to the biodegradation of antibiotics in this study area.