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Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety
Volume 231, 2022, 113185

Reduction effect of individual N, P, K fertilization on antibiotic resistance genes in reclaimed water irrigated soil

Erping Cuia, Xiangyang Fana, Chao Hua, Andrew L. Nealb, Bingjian Cuia

Farmland Irrigation Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Xinxiang 453002, China.


The transfer of antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) in soil under reclaimed water irrigation poses a potential environmental risk. Regulation of NPK fertilizer could influence the behavior of bacterial communities, mobile genetic elements (MGEs), and soil properties, which determine the fate of ARGs. To identify the key element in NPK fertilizer and realize efficient regulation, we explored the effect of individual N, P, K fertilization on ARG variation in tomato rhizosphere and bulk soils. Compared with an unfertilized treatment, N fertilization resulted in greater decreases in the abundance of ARGs (decreases of 24.06%–73.09%) than did either P fertilization (increases of up to 35.84%, decreases of up to 58.80%) or K fertilization (decreases of 13.47%–72.47%). The influence of different forms of N (CO(NH2)2, NaNO3, and NH4HCO3), P (Ca(H2PO4)2 and CaMgO4P+), and K (KCl and K2(SO4)) fertilizers was also investigated in this study, and showed the influence of NaNO3, CaMgO4P+, and K2(SO4) on reducing ARGs abundance was greater in different types of N, P, K fertilizers. Bacterial communities showed the strongest response to N fertilization. The reduced bacterial diversity and abundance of ARG-host and non-host organisms explained the decline of total ARG abundance in soil. In soils fertilized with either P or K, the effect of soil properties, especially total nitrogen and pH, on ARG variation was greater than that of bacterial community and MGEs. These results suggest that N regulation of in NPK fertilizer may be an effective way to reduce the risks of ARGs in soil associated with reclaimed water irrigation.

Keywords: Chemical fertilizer, Reclaimed water irrigation, Antibiotic resistance genes, Bacterial community.

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