Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 26, Issue 6, pp 6209–6215 | Cite as

Degradation of tetracyclines in manure-amended soil and their uptake by litchi (Litchi chinensis Sonn.)

  • Hui Shi
  • Cuihua Bai
  • Donglin Luo
  • Wei Wang
  • Changmin Zhou
  • Andrew A. Meharg
  • Lixian YaoEmail author
Research Article


The environmental and human health risk posed by veterinary antibiotics is of global concern. Antibiotic uptake by herbal plants has been studied, but little is known about perennial woody fruit crops. Litchi (Litchi chinensis Sonn.), a longevial fruit tree, is routinely fertilized with animal manure and, therefore, may be at risk of antibiotic uptake into its fruits. This study investigated the degradation of chlortetracycline and doxycycline present in manure used to amend orchard soil, and their subsequent assimilation by litchi plant, as affected by manure application rate. The results show that half-lives of chlortetracycline and doxycycline in soil were decreased by increased manure rate, with an average of 27 and 59 days, respectively. Chlortetracycline was readily transported to litchi shoots and increased with the growth of litchi plants. Doxycycline predominantly remained in the roots, and underwent growth dilution in the plants. The two tetracyclines could not be detected in fruits from litchi trees when applied with manures, at various rates, over 2 years. For litchi, chlortetracycline may pose human health risk through manure application, but doxycycline is unlikely to do so. Long-term field experiments are required to monitor antibiotic accumulation in fruits of perennial fruit trees fertilized with animal manure.


Animal manure Tetracycline Degradation Soil Litchi Bioaccumulation 


Funding information

This work was financed by the earmarked fund for Modern Agro-industry Technology Research System (CARS 33-08) and the Science and Technology Planning Project of Guangdong Province (2014A020208095).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Natural Resources and EnvironmentSouth China Agricultural UniversityWushanChina
  2. 2.Institute of Global Food SecurityQueen’s University BelfastBelfastUK

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