Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Document Type





Plant and Soil Science

First Advisor

Dr. Elisa M. D’Angelo


Several types of antibiotics (roxarsone, virginiamycin, and bacitracin) are widely included in poultry feed to improve animal growth yields. Most of the antibiotics are excreted in manure which is subsequently applied to soils. One concern with this practice is that antibiotics may affect several microbially-mediated nutrient cycling reactions in soils that influence crop productivity and water quality. The main objectives of this study were to determine the effects of livestock antibiotics on nitrification, denitrification, and microbial community composition in soils along a topographic gradient. These objectives were addressed in a series of lab experiments by monitoring changes in inorganic N species and ester-linked fatty acid methyl ester profiles after exposing soil microorganisms collected from different topographic positions to increasing levels of antibiotics. It was discovered that roxarsone and virginiamycin inhibited nitrification and soil microbial growth and also influenced microbial community composition, but only at levels that were much higher than expected in poultry litter-applied soils. Bacitracin did not affect nitrification, microbial growth, or microbial community composition at any concentration tested. None of the antibiotics had a strong affect on denitrification. Thus, it is unlikely that soil, water, or air quality would be significantly impacted by the antibiotics contained in poultry litter.

Included in

Soil Science Commons