Housefly Larva Vermicomposting Efficiently Attenuates Antibiotic Resistance Genes in Swine Manure, with Concomitant Bacterial Population Changes. Academic Article uri icon


  • Manure from swine treated with antimicrobials as feed additives is a major source for the expansion of the antibiotic resistance gene (ARG) reservoir in the environment. Vermicomposting via housefly larvae (Musca domestica) can be efficiently used to treat manure and regenerate biofertilizer, but few studies have investigated its effect on ARG attenuation. Here, we tracked the abundances of 9 ARGs and the composition and structure of the bacterial communities in manure samples across 6 days of full-scale manure vermicomposting. On day 6, the abundances of genes encoding tetracycline resistance [tet(M), tet(O), tet(Q), and tet(W)] were reduced (P < 0.05), while those of genes encoding sulfonamide resistance (sul1 and sul2) were increased (P < 0.05) when normalized to 16S rRNA. The abundances of tetracycline resistance genes were correlated (P < 0.05) with the changing concentrations of tetracyclines in the manure. The overall diversity and richness of the bacteria significantly decreased during vermicomposting, accompanied by a 100 times increase in the relative abundance of Flavobacteriaceae spp. Variations in the abundances of ARGs were correlated with the changing microbial community structure and the relative abundances of the family Ruminococcaceae, class Bacilli, or phylum Proteobacteria. Vermicomposting, as a waste management practice, can reduce the overall abundance of ARGs. More research is warranted to assess the use of this waste management practice as a measure to attenuate the dissemination of antimicrobial residues and ARGs from livestock production before vermicompost can be safely used as biofertilizer in agroecosystems.

publication date

  • November 2015