Abundance of Antibiotic Resistance Genes in Bacteriophage following Soil Fertilization with Dairy Manure or Municipal Biosolids, and Evidence for Potential Transduction.
Appl Environ Microbiol. 2015 Nov ;81(22):7905-13. Epub 2015 Sep 4. PMID: 26341211
Animal manures and municipal biosolids recycled onto crop production land carry antibiotic-resistant bacteria that can influence the antibiotic resistome of agricultural soils, but little is known about the contribution of bacteriophage to the dissemination of antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) in this context. In this work, we quantified a set of ARGs in the bacterial and bacteriophage fractions of agricultural soil by quantitative PCR. All tested ARGs were present in both the bacterial and phage fractions. We demonstrate that fertilization of soil with dairy manure or human biosolids increases ARG abundance in the bacterial fraction but not the bacteriophage fraction and further show that pretreatment of dairy manure can impact ARG abundance in the bacterial fraction. Finally, we show that purified bacteriophage can confer increased antibiotic resistance to soil bacteria when combined with selective pressure. The results indicate that soilborne bacteriophage represents a substantial reservoir of antibiotic resistance and that bacteriophage could play a significant role in the horizontal transfer of resistance genes in the context of an agricultural soil microbiome. Overall, our work reinforces the advisability of composting or digesting fecal material prior to field application and suggests that application of some antibiotics at subclinical concentrations can promote bacteriophage-mediated horizontal transfer of ARGs in agricultural soil microbiomes.