Manure anaerobic digestion effects and the role of pre- and post-treatments on veterinary antibiotics and antibiotic resistance genes removal efficiency

Sci Total Environ. 2020 Jun 15;721:137532. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.137532. Epub 2020 Feb 28.


This review was aimed to summarize and critically evaluate studies on removal of veterinary antibiotics (VAs), antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) and mobile genetic elements (MGEs) with anaerobic digestion (AD) of manure and demonstrate areas of focus for improved removal efficiency. The environmental risks associated to the release of the same were also critically evaluated. The potential of AD and advanced AD of manure on removal rate of VAs, ARGs and MGEs was thoroughly assessed. In addition, the role of post and pre-AD treatments and their potential to support VAs and ARGs removal efficiency were evaluated. The overall review results show disparity among the different groups of VAs in terms of removal rate with relatively higher efficiency for β-lactams and tetracyclines compared to the other groups. Some of sulfonamides, fluoroquinolones and macrolides were reported to be highly persistent with removal rates as low as zero. Within group differences were also reported in many literatures. Moreover, removal of ARGs and MGEs by AD was widely reported although complete removal was hardly possible. Even in rare scenarios, some AD conditions were reported to increase copies of specific groups of the genes. Temperature pretreatments and temperature phased advanced AD were also reported to improve removal efficiency of VAs while contributing to increased biogas production. Moreover, a few studies also showed the possibility of further removal by post-AD treatments such as liquid-solid separation, drying and composting. In conclusion, the various studies revealed that AD in its current technological level is not a guarantee for complete removal of VAs, ARGs and MGEs from manure. Consequently, their possible release to the soils with digestate could threaten the healthcare and disturb soil microbial ecology. Thus, intensive management strategies need to be designed to increase removal efficiency at the different manure management points along the anaerobic digestion process.

Keywords: Aerobic composting; Manure management; Soil health; Solid digestate.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anaerobiosis
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology*
  • Drug Resistance, Microbial / drug effects
  • Genes, Bacterial / drug effects
  • Manure*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Manure