Insufficient removal of antibiotics and antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) from waste products can increase the risk of selection for antibiotic resistance in non-clinical environments. While composting is an efficient way to reduce ARGs, most conventional methods are ineffective at processing highly contaminated antibiotic fermentation waste. Here we explored the efficacy and underlying mechanisms of hyperthermophilic composting at removing tylosin antibiotic fermentation residues (TFR) and associated ARGs and mobile genetic elements (MGEs; plasmids, integrons and transposon). Hyperthermophilic composting removed 95.0% of TFR, 75.8% of ARGs and 98.5% of MGEs and this reduction mainly occurred after extended exposure to temperatures above 60 °C for at least 6 days. Based on sequencing and culture-dependent experiments, reduction in ARGs and MGEs was strongly associated with a decrease in the number of bacterial taxa that were initially associated with ARGs and MGEs. Moreover, we found 94.1% reduction in plasmid genes abundances (ISCR1 and IncQ-oriV) that significantly correlated with reduced ARGs during the composting, which suggests that plasmids were the main carriers for ARGs. We verified this using direct culturing to show that ARGs were more often found in plasmids during the early phase of composting. Together these results suggest that hyperthermophilic composting is efficient at removing ARGs and associated resistance genes from antibiotic fermentation waste by decreasing the abundance of antibiotic resistance plasmids and associated host bacteria.
|Publication status||Published - 2019|
- Antibiotic residue
- Hyperthermophilic composting
- Horizontal gene transfer
- Antibiotic resistance genes