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Spreading Antibiotics In The Soil Affects Microbial Ecosystems

Date:
April 2, 2009
Source:
Society for General Microbiology
Summary:
Antibiotics used extensively in intensive livestock production may be having an adverse effect on agricultural soil ecosystems. Researchers describe 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.

Antibiotics used extensively in intensive livestock production may be having an adverse effect on agricultural soil ecosystems.

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In a presentation to the Society for General Microbiology meeting at Harrogate International Centre March 30, 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 soil, seem to be particularly affected. The effects persisted over several weeks and were still seen even when the antibiotics 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."


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The above story is based on materials provided by Society for General Microbiology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Society for General Microbiology. "Spreading Antibiotics In The Soil Affects Microbial Ecosystems." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 April 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090329205445.htm>.
Society for General Microbiology. (2009, April 2). Spreading Antibiotics In The Soil Affects Microbial Ecosystems. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090329205445.htm
Society for General Microbiology. "Spreading Antibiotics In The Soil Affects Microbial Ecosystems." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090329205445.htm (accessed December 20, 2014).

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