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Poultry Litter Study for Agricultural Antibiotic Resistance in Bowling Green, Kentucky

posted on 2024-02-13, 13:57 authored by Kim Cook

Poultry litter (PL) is a by-product of broiler production. Most PL is land applied. Land-applied PL is a valuable nutrient source for crop production but can also be a route of environmental contamination with manure-borne bacteria. The objective of this study was to characterize the fate of pathogens, fecal indicator bacteria (FIB), and bacteria containing antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) after application of PL to soils under conventional till or no-till management. This 2-yr study was conducted in accordance with normal agricultural practices, and microbial populations were quantified using a combination of culture and quantitative, real-time polymerase chain reaction analysis. Initial concentrations of Campylobacter jejuni in PL were 5.4 ± 3.2 × 106 cells g-1 PL; Salmonella sp. was not detected in the PL but was enriched periodically from PL-amended soils. Escherichia coli was detected in PL (1.5 ± 1.3 × 102 culturable or 1.5 ± 0.3 × 107 genes g-1) but was rarely detected in field soils, whereas enterococci (1.5 ± 0.5 × 108 cells g-1 PL) were detected throughout the study. These results suggest that enterococci may be better FIB for field-applied PL. Concentrations of ARGs for sulfonamide, streptomycin, and tetracycline resistance increased up to 3.0 orders of magnitude after PL application and remained above background for up to 148 d. These data provide new knowledge about important microbial FIB, pathogens, and ARGs associated with PL application under realistic field-based conditions.

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Data contact name

Cook, Kim

Data contact email


U.S. Department of Agriculture

Use limitations

Citation requested if data is used. PUBLIC DOMAIN NOTICE: This database is a "United States Government Work" under the terms of the United States Copyright Act. It was written as part of the author's official duties as a United States Government employee and thus cannot be copyrighted. This software/database is freely available to the public for use. The Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and the U.S. Government have not placed any restriction on its use or reproduction. Although all reasonable efforts have been taken to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the software and data, the ARS and the U.S. Government do not and cannot warrant the performance or results that may be obtained by using this software or data. The ARS and the U.S. Government disclaim all warranties, express or implied, including warranties of performance, merchantability or fitness for any particular purpose.

Temporal Extent Start Date


Temporal Extent End Date



  • irregular


  • Not specified

Geographic Coverage


ISO Topic Category

  • environment
  • farming

National Agricultural Library Thesaurus terms

poultry manure; antibiotic resistance; Kentucky; byproducts; poultry production; broiler chickens; crop production; pollution; bacteria; pathogens; indicator species; antibiotic resistance genes; soil; conventional tillage; no-tillage; quantitative polymerase chain reaction; Campylobacter jejuni; Salmonella; Escherichia coli; Enterococcus; streptomycin; tetracycline

OMB Bureau Code

  • 005:18 - Agricultural Research Service

OMB Program Code

  • 005:040 - National Research

ARS National Program Number

  • 211
  • 212

Pending citation

  • No

Public Access Level

  • Public

Preferred dataset citation

Kim Cook (2020). Poultry Litter Study for Agricultural Antibiotic Resistance in Bowling Green, Kentucky. U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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