U.S. Department of Agriculture: Agricultural Research Service, Lincoln, Nebraska


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Agga GE, Arthur TM, Durso LM, Harhay DM, Schmidt JW (2015) Antimicrobial-Resistant Bacterial Populations and Antimicrobial Resistance Genes Obtained from Environments Impacted by Livestock and Municipal Waste. PLoS ONE 10(7): e0132586. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0132586


U. S. government work.


This study compared the populations of antimicrobial-resistant bacteria and the repertoire of antimicrobial resistance genes in four environments: effluent of three municipal wastewater treatment facilities, three cattle feedlot runoff catchment ponds, three swine waste lagoons, and two “low impact” environments (an urban lake and a relict prairie). Multiple liquid and solid samples were collected from each environment. The prevalences and concentrations of antimicrobial-resistant (AMR) Gram-negative (Escherichia coli and Salmonella enterica) and Gram-positive (enterococci) bacteria were determined from individual samples (n = 174). The prevalences of 84 antimicrobial resistance genes in metagenomic DNA isolated from samples pooled (n = 44) by collection date, location, and sample type were determined. The prevalences and concentrations of AMR E. coli and Salmonella were similar among the livestock and municipal sample sources. The levels of erythromycin-resistant enterococci were significantly higher in liquid samples from cattle catchment ponds and swine waste lagoons than in liquid samples from municipal wastewater treatment facilities, but solid samples from these environments did not differ significantly. Similarly, trimethoprim/ sulfamethoxazole-resistant E. coli concentrations were significantly higher in swine liquid than in municipal liquid samples, but there was no difference in solid samples. Multivariate analysis of the distribution of antimicrobial resistance genes using principal coordinate analysis showed distinct clustering of samples with livestock (cattle and swine), low impact environment and municipal samples forming three separate clusters. The numbers of class A beta-lactamase, class C beta-lactamase, and fluoroquinolone resistance genes detected were significantly higher (P < 0.05) in municipal samples than in cattle runoff or swine lagoon samples. In conclusion, we report that AMR is a very widespread phenomenon and that similar prevalences and concentrations of antimicrobial-resistant bacteria and antimicrobial resistance genes exist in cattle, human, and swine waste streams, but a higher diversity of antimicrobial resistance genes are present in treated human waste discharged from municipal wastewater treatment plants than in livestock environments.