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Lett Appl Microbiol. 2005;40(2):146-51.

Copper amendment of agricultural soil selects for bacterial antibiotic resistance in the field.

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1
Department of Ecology, Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University, Frederiksberg C, Denmark.

Abstract

AIMS:

The objective of this study was to determine whether Cu-amendment of field plots affects the frequency of Cu resistance, and antibiotic resistance patterns in indigenous soil bacteria.

METHODS AND RESULTS:

Soil bacteria were isolated from untreated and Cu-amended field plots. Cu-amendment significantly increased the frequency of Cu-resistant isolates. A panel of isolates were characterized by Gram-reaction, amplified ribosomal DNA restriction analysis and resistance profiling against seven antibiotics. More than 95% of the Cu-resistant isolates were Gram-negative. Cu-resistant Gram-negative isolates had significantly higher incidence of resistance to ampicillin, sulphanilamide and multiple (> or =3) antibiotics than Cu-sensitive Gram-negative isolates. Furthermore, Cu-resistant Gram-negative isolates from Cu-contaminated plots had significantly higher incidence of resistance to chloramphenicol and multiple (> or =2) antibiotics than corresponding isolates from control plots.

SIGNIFICANCE AND IMPACT OF THE STUDY:

The results of this field experiment show that introduction of Cu to agricultural soil selects for Cu resistance, but also indirectly selects for antibiotic resistance in the Cu-resistant bacteria. Hence, the widespread accumulation of Cu in agricultural soils worldwide could have a significant effect on the environmental selection of antibiotic resistance.

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