Poultry manure-derived microorganisms as a reservoir and source of antibiotic resistance genes transferred to soil autochthonous microorganisms

J Environ Manage. 2023 Dec 15:348:119303. doi: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2023.119303. Epub 2023 Oct 11.


Animal husbandry is increasing yearly due to the growing demand for meat and livestock products, among other reasons. To meet these demands, prophylactic antibiotics are used in the livestock industry (i.e., poultry farming) to promote health and stimulate animal growth. However, antibiotics are not fully metabolized by animals, and they are evacuated to the environment with excreta. Animal manure is used as fertilizer to reduce the volume of waste generated in the livestock sector. However, manure often contains microorganisms harboring antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs). Then, the microbiome of manure applicate to the soil may contribute to the spread of antibiotic resistance in the environment, including autochthonous soil-dwelling microorganisms. The present study was conducted during the crops growing season in Poland (May to September 2019) to determine the influence of poultry manure as well as poultry manure supplemented with selected antibiotics on the diversity of the soil microbiome in treatments that had not been previously fertilized with manure and the ability of antibiotic-resistant bacteria to transfer ARGs to other soil bacteria. Antibiotic concentrations were elevated at the beginning of the study and decreased over time. Poultry manure induced significant changes in the structure of microbial communities in soil; the diversity of the soil microbiome decreased, and the abundance of bacterial genera Bradyrhizobium, Streptomyces, and Pseudomonas, which are characteristic of the analyzed manure, increased. Over time, soil microbial diversity was restored to the state observed before the application of manure. Genes conferring resistance to multiple drugs as well as genes encoding resistance to bacitracin and aminoglycosides were the most frequently identified ARGs in the analyzed bacteria, including on mobile genetic elements. Multidrug resistance was observed in 17 bacterial taxa, whereas ARGs were identified in 32 bacterial taxa identified in the soil microbiome. The results of the study conclude that the application of poultry manure supplemented with antibiotics initially affects soil microbiome and resistome diversity but finally, the soil shows resilience and returns to its original state after time, with most antibiotic resistance genes disappearing. This phenomenon is of great importance in sustainable soil health after manure application.

Keywords: ARGs; Antibiotics in soil; MGEs; Soil fertilizer; Soil microbiome; Soil resistome.

MeSH terms

  • Animal Husbandry
  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents* / pharmacology
  • Bacteria / genetics
  • Drug Resistance, Microbial / genetics
  • Genes, Bacterial
  • Health Promotion
  • Manure / microbiology
  • Poultry / genetics
  • Soil Microbiology
  • Soil* / chemistry


  • Soil
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Manure