Antibiotic Resistance Genes (ARG) as Contaminants

More than half of the antibiotics used in the U.S. are used in livestock, not people. The routine use of antibiotics in agriculture is economically beneficial because they prevent sickness and promote weight gain. However, not all antibiotics are broken down by the animals and a significant portion is excreted into the environment. Recent research by collaborators at C.S.U. (Yang and Carlson, 2003) has demonstrated the presence of various antibiotics in the sediments of the Poudre River in northern Colorado. The purpose of this research is to further explore the impact of antibiotics in the environment on the level of resistance in microbial populations and to develop simple strategies to minimize risk of antibiotic use to humans and the environments. For example, composting animal manure prior to land application not only benefits the soil, but may allow time for antibiotics and antibiotic resistance genes to attenuate.
Field experiment at ARDEC on composting approaches to minimimze impact of antibiotics to environment

Thank you to NSF CAREER, USDA CSREES and the CSU Agricultural Experiment Station for financially supporting this research!

Students Working on this project:


Heather N. Storteboom, Ph.D. Candidate

M.S. Environmental Engineering, CSU
B.S. Biochemistry, Calvin College

Chad McKinney, M.S.. Candidate

B.S. Environmental Engineering, CSU


Pei , R., Cha, J-M., Carlson, K.H., and A. Pruden. Biological Treatment of Antibiotic Resistance Genes (ARG) in Dairy Lagoon Water. Environ. Sci. Technol. (in preparation, submission expected September, 2006).

Storteboom, H., Kim, S.C., Doesken, K., Davis, J., Carlson, K.H., and A. Pruden. Response of Tetracycline and Resistance Genes tet(W) and tet(O) to High-Level and Low-Level Managed Manures. Env. Microbiol. (Submitted August, 2006).

Pruden, A., Pei, R., Storteboom, H., and K.H. Carlson. Antibiotic Resistance Genes (ARG) as Emerging Contaminants: Studies in Northeastern Colorado. Environ. Sci. Technol. (in press for Special Issue on Emerging Contaminants, Sept. 2006).

Pei , R., Kim, S.C., Carlson, K.H., and A. Pruden. (2006). Effect of River Landscape on the Sediment Concentrations of Antibiotics and Corresponding Antibiotic Resistance Genes (ARG). Water Res.40(12):2427-2435.

Conference Proceedings:

Pei, R., Huxford, K., and A. Pruden. Quantifying Antibiotic Resistance in the Sediments of a Mixed-LandscapeRiver. Water Environment Federation Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC) 2005, accepted for alternate oral presentation and poster.

Pruden, A. Antibiotics and Antibiotic Resistance Genes (ARG) in the Environment. Soil and Water Conservation Society: International Conference on Conservation & Environmental Management, Keystone, CO, July 22-25, 2006.

Pruden, A. Antibiotic Resistance Genes in the Poudre River Watershed. American Society for Microbiology 106 th General Meeting, Orlando, FL, May 21-25, 2006.