Phenotypic and genotypic bacterial antimicrobial resistance in liquid pig manure is variously associated with contents of tetracyclines and sulfonamides

C. S. Hölzel, K. S. Harms, H. Küchenhoff, A. Kunz, C. Müller, K. Meyer, K. Schwaiger, J. Bauer

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52 Scopus citations


Aims: Antibiotic residues as well as antibiotic-resistant bacteria in environmental samples might pose a risk to human health. This study aimed to investigate the association between antibiotic residues and bacterial antimicrobial resistance in liquid pig manure used as fertilizer. Methods and Results: Concentrations of tetracyclines (TETs) and sulfonamides (SULs) were determined by liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry in 305 pig manure samples; antibiotic contents were correlated to the phenotypic resistance of Escherichia coli (n = 613) and enterococci (n = 564) towards up to 24 antibiotics. In 121 samples, the concentration of the TET resistance genes tet(M), tet(O) and tet(B) was quantified by real-time-PCR. TETs were found in 54% of the samples. The median sum concentration of all investigated TETs in the positive samples was 0·73 mg kg-1. SULs were found with a similar frequency (51%) and a median sum concentration of 0·15 mg kg-1 in the positive samples. Associated with the detection of TETs and/or SULs, resistance rates were significantly elevated for several substances - some of them not used in farm animals, e.g. chloramphenicol and synercid. In addition, multiresistant isolates were found more often in samples containing antibiotics. Analysis of the resistance genes tet(M) and tet(O) already showed a significant increase in their concentrations - but not in tet(B) - in the lowest range of total TET concentration. Mean tet(M) concentrations increased by the factor of 4·5 in the TET concentration range of 0·1-1 mg kg-1, compared to negative manure samples. Conclusions: Antibiotic contamination of manure seems to be associated with a variety of changes in bacterial resistance, calling for a prudent use of antibiotics in farm animals. Significance and Impact of the Study: This study provides an interdisciplinary approach to assess antimicrobial resistance by combining the microbiological analysis of bacterial resistance with high quality chemical analysis of antibiotic residues in a representative number of environmental samples.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1642-1656
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Applied Microbiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2010


  • Antimicrobial resistance
  • Enterococcus
  • Escherichia coli
  • Multiresistance
  • Pig manure
  • Sulfonamide
  • Tetracycline
  • Tetracycline resistance genes


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