Soil biota, antimicrobial resistance and planetary health

Yong Guan Zhu*, Yi Zhao, Dong Zhu, Michael Gillings, J. Penuelas, Yong Sik Ok, Anthony Capon, Steve Banwart

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

14 Citations (Scopus)
13 Downloads (Pure)


The concept of planetary health acknowledges the links between ecosystems, biodiversity and human health and well-being. Soil, the critical component of the interconnected ecosystem, is the most biodiverse habitat on Earth, and soil microbiomes play a major role in human health and well-being through ecosystem services such as nutrient cycling, pollutant remediation and synthesis of bioactive compounds such as antimicrobials. Soil is also a natural source of antimicrobial resistance, which is often termed intrinsic resistance. However, increasing use and misuse of antimicrobials in humans and animals in recent decades has increased both the diversity and prevalence of antimicrobial resistance in soils, particularly in areas affected by human and animal wastes, such as organic manures and reclaimed wastewater, and also by air transmission. Antimicrobials and antimicrobial resistance are two sides of the sword, while antimicrobials are essential in health care; globally, antimicrobial resistance is jeopardizing the effectiveness of antimicrobial drugs, thus threatening human health. Soil is a crucial pathway through which humans are exposed to antimicrobial resistance determinants, including those harbored by human pathogens. In this review, we use the nexus of antimicrobials and antimicrobial resistance as a focus to discuss the role of soil in planetary health and illustrate the impacts of soil microbiomes on human health and well-being. This review examines the sources and dynamics of antimicrobial resistance in soils and uses the perspective of planetary health to track the movement of antimicrobial-resistance genes between environmental compartments, including soil, water, food and air.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105059
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironment International
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2019

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2019. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • planetary health
  • human health
  • soil microbiome
  • antimicrobials
  • resistome

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Soil biota, antimicrobial resistance and planetary health'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this

    Zhu, Y. G., Zhao, Y., Zhu, D., Gillings, M., Penuelas, J., Ok, Y. S., ... Banwart, S. (2019). Soil biota, antimicrobial resistance and planetary health. Environment International, 131, 1-7. [105059].