Soil contamination with antibiotics in a typical peri-urban area in eastern China: Seasonal variation, risk assessment, and microbial responses

Fangkai Zhao , Lei Yang , Liding Chen , Qian Xiang , Shoujuan Li , Long Sun , Xinwei Yu , Li Fang


Received May 24, 2018,Revised , Accepted November 29, 2018, Available online December 13, 2018

Volume 31,2019,Pages 200-212

The prevalence and persistence of antibiotics in soils has become an emerging environmental issue and an increasing threat to soil security and global public health. The problem is more severe in areas undergoing rapid urbanization; however, the ecological risks of antibiotics, seasonal variability, and associated soil microbial responses in peri-urban soils have not been well-explored. The seasonal soil sampling campaigns were conducted in a typical peri-urban watershed in eastern China to investigate distribution of antibiotics. The results demonstrated higher mean concentrations of most antibiotic compounds in winter than in summer in peri-urban soils. The seasonal variations of norfloxacin, enrofloxacin, and ciprofloxacin were more significant than those of other antibiotics, due to their higher migration ability and bioavailability. An ecological risk assessment demonstrated that chlortetracycline, ciprofloxacin, doxycycline, and ofloxacin can pose high risks to soil microorganisms. Furthermore, the coexistence of multiple antibiotics obviously poses higher risks than individual compounds. A redundancy analysis demonstrated that tetracyclines mainly showed negative correlations with Firmicutes and Chloroflexi, and quinolones showed obviously negative correlations with Acidobacteria, Gemmatimonadetes, and Nitrospirae, suggesting potential inhibition from antibiotics on biological activities or biodegradation processes. However, the persistence of antibiotics in soil results in a significant decrease in bacterial diversity and a change in dominant species. Our results provide an overview of the seasonal variability of antibiotics and the associated effects on bacterial communities in peri-urban soils. The results can provide scientific guidance on decreasing soil contamination with antibiotics to enhance soil security in similar areas.

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