Treating cattle with antibiotics affects greenhouse gas emissions, and microbiota in dung and dung beetles

Hammer, Tobin J. and Fierer, Noah and Hardwick, Bess and Simojoki, Asko and Slade, Eleanor Margaret and Taponen, Juhani and Viljanen, Heidi and Roslin, Tomas (2016) Treating cattle with antibiotics affects greenhouse gas emissions, and microbiota in dung and dung beetles. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 283 (1831). ISSN 0962-8452

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Abstract

Antibiotics are routinely used to improve livestock health and growth. However, this practice may have unintended environmental impacts mediated by interactions among the wide range of micro-and macroorganisms found in agroecosystems. For example, antibiotics may alter microbial emissions of greenhouse gases by affecting livestock gut microbiota. Furthermore, antibiotics may affect the microbiota of non-target animals that rely on dung, such as dung beetles, and the ecosystem services they provide. To examine these interactions, we treated cattle with a commonly used broad-spectrum antibiotic and assessed downstream effects on microbiota in dung and dung beetles, greenhouse gas fluxes from dung, and beetle size, survival and reproduction. We found that antibiotic treatment restructured microbiota in dung beetles, which harboured a microbial community distinct from those in the dung they were consuming. The antibiotic effect on beetle microbiota was not associated with smaller size or lower numbers. Unexpectedly, antibiotic treatment raised methane fluxes from dung, possibly by altering the interactions between methanogenic archaea and bacteria in rumen and dung environments. Our findings that antibiotics restructure dung beetle microbiota and modify greenhouse gas emissions from dung indicate that antibiotic treatment may have unintended, cascading ecological effects that extend beyond the target animal.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Uncontrolled Keywords:
/dk/atira/pure/subjectarea/asjc/2700
Subjects:
ID Code:
80007
Deposited By:
Deposited On:
15 Aug 2016 15:38
Refereed?:
Yes
Published?:
Published
Last Modified:
25 Sep 2020 02:36