Spreading antibiotics in the soil affects microbial ecosystems

Mar 30, 2009

Antibiotics used extensively in intensive livestock production may be having an adverse effect on agricultural soil ecosystems. In a presentation to the Society for General Microbiology meeting at Harrogate International Centre, today (Monday 30 March), Dr Heike Schmitt from the University of Utrecht, the Netherlands described how antibiotics passed from the animals in manure that was then spread on farmland. Although higher organisms, such as earthworms, would only be affected at unrealistic concentrations of antibiotics, changes in soil bacterial communities have been found repeatedly using molecular microbiological techniques.

Bacteria involved in the nitrogen cycle, which replenishes nutrients in the , seem to be particularly affected. The effects persisted over several weeks and were still seen even when the had broken down significantly. In addition the microbial population of the soil changed as fungi replaced the bacteria suppressed by the antibiotics.

"The antibiotic concentrations that to date have been found in agricultural soils are smaller than the concentrations at which the adverse effects start occurring", said Dr Schmitt, "However, this might not be the case for 'hot spots", for example, when manure is not mixed thoroughly in the soil."

Source: Society for General Microbiology

Explore further: Researchers find protein necessary for fertility performs different roles in sperm, eggs

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Green tea helps beat superbugs

Mar 31, 2008

Green tea can help beat superbugs according to Egyptian scientists speaking today at the Society for General Microbiology’s 162nd meeting being held this week at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre.

Salmonella in garden birds responsive to antibiotics

Jun 02, 2008

Scientists at the University of Liverpool have found that Salmonella bacteria found in garden birds are sensitive to antibiotics, suggesting that the infection is unlike the bacteria found in livestock and humans.

Improving swine waste fertilizer

Jul 08, 2008

Swine production generates large amounts of waste. While this waste contains nutrients that may serve as fertilizer when applied to agricultural fields, the ratio of nutrients in the waste is different than what a crop requires.

Nanotechnology used to probe effectiveness of antibiotics

Feb 04, 2009

A group of researchers led by scientists from the London Centre for Nanotechnology, in collaboration with a University of Queensland researcher, have discovered a way of using tiny nano-probes to help understand how an antibiotic ...

Recommended for you

In a role reversal, RNAs proofread themselves

Jan 29, 2015

Building a protein is a lot like a game of telephone: information is passed along from one messenger to another, creating the potential for errors every step of the way. There are separate, specialized enzymatic ...

Growing functioning brain tissue in 3D

Jan 29, 2015

Researchers at the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology in Japan have succeeded in inducing human embryonic stem cells to self-organize into a three-dimensional structure similar to the cerebellum, providing ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.