Effects of biochar on reducing the abundance of oxytetracycline, antibiotic resistance genes, and human pathogenic bacteria in soil and lettuce.Environ Pollut. 2017 May; 224:787-795.EP
Antibiotics and antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) in soil can affect human health via the food chain. Biochar is a soil amendment but its impacts on ARGs and the microbial communities associated with soil and vegetables are unclear. Therefore, we established three lettuce pot culture experiments, i.e., O300: 300 mg/kg oxytetracycline (OTC), BO300: 300 mg/kg OTC + 2% biochar, and a control without OTC or biochar. We found that under BO300, the relative abundances of ARGs were reduced by 51.8%, 43.4%, and 44.1% in lettuce leaves, roots, and soil, respectively, compared with O300. intI1 was highly abundant in soil and lettuce, and it co-occurred with some ARGs (tetW, ermF, and sul1). Redundancy analysis and network analysis indicated that the bacterial community succession was the main mechanism that affected the variations in ARGs and intI1. The reduction of Firmicutes due to the biochar treatment of soil and lettuce was the main factor responsible for the removal of tetracycline resistance genes in leaves. Biochar application led to the disappearance of human pathogenic bacteria (HPB), which was significantly correlated with the abundances of ermF and ermX. In summary, biochar is an effective farmland amendment for reducing the abundances of antibiotics, ARGs, and HPB in order to ensure the safety of vegetables and protect human health.