Determinants for antimicrobial resistance genes in farm dust on 333 poultry and pig farms in nine European countries

Roosmarijn E.C. Luiken*, Dick J.J. Heederik, Peter Scherpenisse, Liese Van Gompel, Eri van Heijnsbergen, Gerdit D. Greve, Betty G.M. Jongerius-Gortemaker, Monique H.G. Tersteeg-Zijderveld, Jennie Fischer, Katharina Juraschek, Magdalena Skarżyńska, Magdalena Zając, Dariusz Wasyl, Jaap A. Wagenaar, Lidwien A.M. Smit, Inge M. Wouters, Dik J. Mevius, Heike Schmitt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Livestock feces with antimicrobial resistant bacteria reaches the farm floor, manure pit, farm land and wider environment by run off and aerosolization. Little research has been done on the role of dust in the spread of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in farms. Concentrations and potential determinants of antimicrobial resistance genes (ARGs) in farm dust are at present not known. Therefore in this study absolute ARG levels, representing the levels people and animals might be exposed to, and relative abundances of ARGs, representing the levels in the bacterial population, were quantified in airborne farm dust using qPCR. Four ARGs were determined in 947 freshly settled farm dust samples, captured with electrostatic dustfall collectors (EDCs), from 174 poultry (broiler) and 159 pig farms across nine European countries. By using linear mixed modeling, associations with fecal ARG levels, antimicrobial use (AMU) and farm and animal related parameters were determined. Results show similar relative abundances in farm dust as in feces and a significant positive association (ranging between 0.21 and 0.82) between the two reservoirs. AMU in pigs was positively associated with ARG abundances in dust from the same stable. Higher biosecurity standards were associated with lower relative ARG abundances in poultry and higher relative ARG abundances in pigs. Lower absolute ARG levels in dust were driven by, among others, summer season and certain bedding materials for poultry, and lower animal density and summer season for pigs. This study indicates different pathways that contribute to shaping the dust resistome in livestock farms, related to dust generation, or affecting the bacterial microbiome. Farm dust is a large reservoir of ARGs from which transmission to bacteria in other reservoirs can possibly occur. The identified determinants of ARG abundances in farm dust can guide future research and potentially farm management policy.

Original languageEnglish
Article number112715
JournalEnvironmental Research
Publication statusPublished - 15 May 2022


  • Antimicrobial resistance
  • Dust
  • Environment
  • Livestock
  • One health
  • Pig
  • Poultry
  • Risk factors


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