Biological Systems Engineering, Department of


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Applied and Environmental Microbiology. April 2024 Volume 90 Issue 4. 10.1128/aem.01752-23


Used by permission.


Transcriptomic evidence is needed to determine whether composting is more effective than conventional stockpiling in mitigating the risk of resistome in livestock manure. The objective of this study is to compare composting and stockpiling for their effectiveness in reducing the risk of antibiotic resistance in beef cattle manure. Samples collected from the center and the surface of full-size manure stockpiling and composting piles were subject to metagenomic and metatranscriptomic analyses. While the distinctions in resistome between stockpiled and composted manure were not evident at the DNA level, the advantages of composting over stockpiling were evident at the transcriptomic level in terms of the abundance of antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs), the number of ARG subtypes, and the prevalence of high-risk ARGs (i.e., mobile ARGs associated with zoonotic pathogens). DNA and transcript contigs show that the pathogen hosts of high-risk ARGs included Escherichia coli O157:H7 and O25b:H4, Klebsiella pneumoniae, and Salmonella enterica. Although the average daily temperatures for the entire composting pile exceeded 55°C throughout the field study, more ARG and ARG transcripts were removed at the center of the composting pile than at the surface. This work demonstrates the advantage of composting over stockpiling in reducing ARG risk in active populations in beef cattle manure.