Application of struvite alters the antibiotic resistome in soil, rhizosphere, and phyllosphere

Qing Lin Chen, Xin Li An, Yong Guan Zhu, Jian Qiang Su, Michael R. Gillings, Zhi Long Ye, Li Cui*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    175 Citations (Scopus)


    Struvite recovered from wastewater is a renewable source of phosphorus and nitrogen and can be used as fertilizer for plant growth. However, antibiotics and resistome can be enriched in the struvite derived from wastewater. Robust understanding of the potential risks after struvite application to soils has remained elusive. Here, we profiled antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) and mobile genetic elements (MGEs) in struvite, soil, rhizosphere and phyllosphere of Brassica using high-throughput quantitative PCR. A total of 165 ARGs and 10 MGEs were detected. Application of struvite was found to increase both the abundance and diversity of ARGs in soil, rhizosphere and phyllosphere. In addition, ARGs shared exclusively between Brassica phyllosphere and struvite were identified, indicating that struvite was an important source of ARGs found in phyllosphere. Furthermore, OTUs shared between rhizosphere and phyllosphere were found to significantly correlate with ARGs, suggesting that microbiota in leaf and root could interconnect and ARGs might transfer from struvite to the surface of plants via rhizosphere using bacteria as spreading medium. These findings demonstrated that struvite as an organic fertilizer can facilitate the spread of antibiotic resistance into human food chain and this environment-acquired antibiotic resistance should be put into human health risk assessment system.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)8149-8157
    Number of pages9
    JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
    Issue number14
    Publication statusPublished - 18 Jul 2017


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