Go to ContentTo Startpage

SOARiAL - Spread of Antibiotic Resistance in an Agrarian Landscape

Our first visit to the agricultural testing field during the project's kickoff meeting on 7 February, 2017. From left to right: Prof. Dr. Ulrich Nübel (DSMZ), Dr. Kerstin Schepanski (TROPOS), Dr. Roger Funk (ZALF), Prof. Dr. Thomas Amon (ATB), Prof. Dr. Uwe Rösler (FU).

In February 2017, the project “SOARiAL” has started. This project is a collaborative effort of scientists from four Leibniz-Institutes (ATB, ZALF, TROPOS and DSMZ) and the FU Berlin, and it is funded by the Leibniz Association. As an interdisciplinary team of microbiologists, veterinarians, meteorologists and agricultural engineers, we will investigate and quantify dust-associated emissions of antibiotic-resistant, pathogenic bacteria from fertilized agricultural fields. During field experiments, we will elucidate the dependence of emissions on soil properties and agricultural management. Our data will allow modelling of bacterial emission fluxes and dispersal and assessing the risk of wind-borne transmission.

The increasing spread of antibiotic resistances is a major threat to public health. Since more than 50 % of antibiotics circulating in the EU and USA are used in livestock breeding, drug-resistant pathogens are highly prevalent in feces derived from livestock fattening farms. Fertilization of agricultural land with manure may lead to environmental pollution with resistant bacteria. Yet it is not known, to which extent manure application, agricultural processing, as well as erosion play a role in the dissemination of bacteria.

Current activities

27.03.2017: On the first field trip dust samples were collected (picture 2) during the distribution of manure (picture 1) on the test area. Thereby the emission from dried, composted, stored and fresh manure was compared.

Distributor spreads dried manure. The arising dust cloud is blown to the measuring equipment positioned 50 m downwind.
Experimental set-up. Dust particles and aerosol samples can be collected for quantification, classification and microbiological analyses.