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Title: Is sewage sludge a valuable fertilizer? A soil microbiome and resistome study under field conditions
Authors: Markowicz, Anna
Bondarczuk, Kinga
Wiekiera, Aleksandra
Sułowicz, Sławomir
Keywords: Sewage sludge; Soil fertilization; Microbial community; Antibiotic resistance gene; Metal resistance gene; Plasmid
Issue Date: 2021
Citation: "Journal of Soils and Sediments" (2021), no. 0, s. 1-14
Abstract: Purpose Sewage sludge land application is strongly recommended to improve soil quality and fertility despite the presence of pollutants, pathogens and antibiotic resistance genes. This study aimed to assess the fertilization value of low and recommended by law sewage sludge dose (15 t ha− 1). Materials and methods In a 540-day field study, the effect of sewage sludge on the soil physicochemical and microbial parameters, emphasising antibiotic and metal resistance spread, was investigated. Results In contrast to expectations, sewage sludge did not improve the organic matter, nutrient content and microbial activity in the soil; therefore, the fertilization effect was not achieved. Moreover, an increase in the bioavailable Cd, Ni and Cu content was observed. Canonical correspondence analysis revealed that these increases mainly explain the changes in the soil microbial community. Sixteen resistance genes and four integron classes were detected in both the total DNA and on plasmids isolated from sewage sludge. Obtained plasmids confer β-lactam resistance or extreme resistance to tetracycline (> 256 μg mL− 1). Two antibiotic resistance genes (blaNPS-2, tetA) were transferred into the fertilized soil and detected up to 6 months after the fertilization. Conclusion Our results provide evidence that the regulated dose of sewage sludge, even when characterized by low total metal content, may affect soil microbial microbiome and resistome. Therefore, these findings provide critical data that have public health implications, which may raise concerns about the suitability of applying sewage sludge to the soil even at the low regulated dose.
DOI: 10.1007/s11368-021-02984-1
ISSN: 1614-7480
Appears in Collections:Artykuły (WNP)

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