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Manure treatment technologies are rapidly developing to minimize eutrophication of surrounding environments and potentially decrease the introduction of antibiotics and antibiotic resistant genes (ARGs) into the environment. While laboratory and pilot-scale manure treatment systems boast promising results, antibiotic and ARG removals in full-scale systems receiving continuous manure input have not been evaluated. The effect of treatment on ARGs is similarly lacking. This study examines the occurrence and transformation of sulfonamides, tetracyclines, tetracycline degradation products, and related ARGs throughout a full-scale advanced anaerobic digester (AAD) receiving continuous manure and antibiotic input. Manure samples were collected throughout the AAD system to evaluate baseline antibiotic and ARG input (raw manure), the effect of hygenization (post-pasteurized manure) and anaerobic digestion (post-digestion manure) on antibiotic and ARG levels. Antibiotics were analyzed by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS), and the ARGs tet(O), tet(W), sul1 and sul2 were analyzed by quantitative polymerase chain reaction (Q-PCR). Significant reductions in the concentrations of chlortetracycline, oxytetracycline, tetracycline and their degradation products were observed in manure liquids following treatment (p < 0.001), concomitant to significant increases in manure solids (p < 0.001). These results suggest sorption is the major removal route for tetracyclines during AAD. Significant decreases in the epimer-to-total residue ratios for chlortetracycline and tetracycline in manure solids further indicate degradation is desorption-limited. Moreover, sul1 and sul2 copies decreased significantly (p < 0.001) following AAD in the absence of sulfonamide antibiotics, while tetracyclines-resistant genes remained unchanged. A cross-sectional study of dairy farms utilizing natural aeration and liquid-solid separation treatments was additionally performed to compare levels of antibiotics and ARGs found in AAD with the levels in common manure management systems. The concentration of antibiotics in raw manure varied greatly between farms while minimal differences in ARGs were observed. However, significant (p < 0.01) differences in the levels of antibiotics and ARGs (except tet(W)) were observed in the effluents from the three different manure management systems.
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Manure, Polymerase chain reaction, Penicillin, Thermophile, Tetracycline antibiotics, Bacteria, Anaerobic digestion, Antibiotic resistance
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