Plants Uptake Antibiotics

| Wed Jul. 11, 2007 3:25 PM EDT

Routine feeding of antibiotics to livestock may be contaminating the world of plants. Researchers at the University of Minnesota have evaluated whether food crops accumulate antibiotics from soils spread with manure that contains antibiotics. Plant uptake was evaluated in a greenhouse study involving three food crops: corn, lettuce, and potato. Plants were grown on soil modified with liquid hog manure containing Sulfamethazine, a commonly used veterinary antibiotic. This antibiotic was taken up by all three crops. Concentrations of antibiotics were found in the plant leaves. Concentrations in plant tissue also increased as the amount of antibiotics present in the manure increased. It also diffused into potato tubers, which suggests that root crops, such as potatoes, carrots, and radishes, that directly come in contact with soil may be particularly vulnerable to antibiotic contamination. JULIA WHITTY

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