Degradation of tetracycline and sulfadiazine during continuous thermophilic composting of pig manure and sawdust

Ammaiyappan Selvam, Zhenyong Zhao, Yunchun Li, Yumei Chen, Kelvin S Y LEUNG, Jonathan W C WONG*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

55 Citations (Scopus)


During composting, the thermophilic phase resulted in high degradation of antibiotics in the composting mass; thus temperature is considered as the major factor for degradation of antibiotics. Therefore, to achieve complete removal of antibiotics, the effect of continuous thermophilic composting on the degradation of antibiotics and their effect on antibiotic resistant bacteria in the pig manure were evaluated. Pig manure was mixed with sawdust, spiked with tetracycline (10 and 100 mg/kg) and sulfadiazine (2 and 20 mg/kg) on dry weight (DW) basis and composted at 55°C for six weeks. Based on the organic decomposition, the antibiotics did not affect the composting process significantly, but negatively influenced the bacterial population. Tetracycline clearly exhibited a negative but marginal influence on carbon decomposition at 100 mg/kg level. The bacterial population initially decreased steeply ∼2 logs and slowly increased thereafter. Sulfadiazine and tetracycline resistant bacterial populations were stable/marginally increased after an initial decrease of about 2 or 3-5 logs, respectively. Sulfadiazine was not detectable after three days; whereas, ∼8% of tetracycline was detected after 42 days of composting with a t1/2 of ∼11 days, irrespective of the initial concentration. The presence of tetracycline in the compost after 42 days of thermophilic composting indicates the involvement of a mesophilic microbial-mediated degradation; however, further studies are required to confirm the direct microbial involvement in the degradation of antibiotics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2433-2441
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental Technology (United Kingdom)
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2013

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal

User-Defined Keywords

  • antibiotic resistant bacteria
  • antibiotics
  • composting
  • manure
  • thermophilic


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