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Fecal Indicator Bacteria and Antibiotic Resistance Genes in Storm Runoff from Dairy Manure and Compost-Amended Vegetable Plots

Jacobs, Kyle, Wind, Lauren, Krometis, Leigh-Anne, Hession, W. Cully, Pruden, Amy
Journal of environmental quality 2019 v.48 no.4 pp. 1038-1046
Enterococcus, Escherichia coli, Lactuca sativa, Raphanus sativus, agricultural land, analysis of variance, antibiotic resistance genes, bacteria, cephapirin, composting, composts, cows, dairy cattle, dairy manure, growing season, indicator species, lettuce, manure amendments, mineral fertilizers, pirlimycin, planting, radishes, rain, sediments, soil amendments, storms, stormwater, water quality
Given the presence of antibiotics and resistant bacteria in livestock manures, it is important to identify the key pathways by which land-applied manure-derived soil amendments potentially spread resistance. The goal of this field-scale study was to identify the effects of different types of soil amendments (raw manure from cows treated with cephapirin and pirlimycin, compost from antibiotic-treated or antibiotic-free cows, or chemical fertilizer only) and crop type (lettuce [Lactuca sativa L.] or radish [Raphanus sativus L.]) on the transport of two antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs; sul1 and ermB) via storm runoff from six naturally occurring storms. Concurrent quantification of sediment and fecal indicator bacteria (FIB; Escherichia coli and enterococci) in runoff permitted comparison to traditional agricultural water quality targets that may be driving factors of ARG presence. Storm characteristics (total rainfall volume, storm duration, etc.) significantly influenced FIB concentration (two-way ANOVA, p < 0.05), although both effects from individual storm events (Kruskal–Wallis, p < 0.05) and vegetative cover influenced sediment levels. Composted and raw manure-amended plots both yielded significantly higher sul1 and ermB levels in runoff for early storms, at least 8 wk following initial planting, relative to fertilizer-only or unamended barren plots. There was no significant difference between sul1 or ermB levels in runoff from plots treated with compost derived from antibiotic-treated versus antibiotic-free dairy cattle. Our findings indicate that agricultural fields receiving manure-derived amendments release higher quantities of these two “indicator” ARGs in runoff, particularly during the early stages of the growing season, and that composting did not reduce effects of ARG loading in runoff.