Effect of Hillslope Position and Manure Application Rates on the Persistence of Fecal Source Tracking Indicators in an Agricultural Soil

Gregory S. Piorkowski, Greg S. Bezanson, Rob C. Jamieson, Lisbeth Truelstrup Hansen, Chris K. Yost

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


The influence of liquid dairy manure (LDM) application rates (12.5 and 25 kL ha(-1)) and soil type on the decay rates of library-independent fecal source tracking markers (host-associated Bacteroidales and mitochondrial DNA) and persistent (>58 d) Escherichia coli population structure was examined in a field study. The soils compared were an Aquic Haplorthod and a Typic Haplorthod in Nova Scotia, Canada, that differed according to landscape position and soil moisture regime. Soil type and LDM application rate did not influence Escherichia coli decay rates (0.045-0.057 d(-1)). Escherichia coli population structure, in terms of the occurrence of abundance of strain types, varied according to soil type (p = 0.012) but did not vary by LDM application rate (p = 0.121). Decay of ruminant-specific Bacteroidales (BacR), bovine-specific Bacteroidales (CowM2), and mitochondrial DNA (AcytB) markers was analyzed for 13 d after LDM application. The decay rates of BacR were greater under high-LDM application rates (0.281-0.358 d(-1)) versus low-LDM application rates (0.212-0.236 d(-1)) but were unaffected by soil type. No decay rates could be calculated for the CowM2 marker because it was undetectable within 6 d after manure application. Decay rates for AcytB were lower for the Aquic Haplorthod (0.088-0.100 d(-1)), with higher moisture status compared with the Typic Haplorthod (0.135 d(-1)). Further investigation into the decay of fecal source tracking indicators in agricultural field soils is warranted to assess the influence of soil type and agronomic practice on the differential decay of relevant markers and the likelihood of transport in runoff.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Environmental Quality
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)450-458
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Nova Scotia Canada, North America Nearctic region
  • agricultural soil
  • agronomic practice
  • Aquic Haplorthod soil
  • fecal source tracking indicator
  • hillslope position
  • manure application rate
  • manure management
  • population structure
  • soil moisture regime
  • soil property
  • Typic Haplorthod soil
  • Artiodactyla Mammalia Vertebrata Chordata Animalia (Animals, Artiodactyls, Chordates, Mammals, Nonhuman Vertebrates, Nonhuman Mammals, Vertebrates) - Bovidae [85715] cattle common
  • Facultatively Anaerobic Gram-Negative Rods Eubacteria Bacteria Microorganisms (Bacteria, Eubacteria, Microorganisms) - Enterobacteriaceae [06702] Escherichia coli species bioindicator
  • Microorganisms (Bacteria, Eubacteria, Microorganisms) - Bacteria [05000] Bacteroidales higher_taxa
  • AcytB
  • BacR
  • CowM2 marker
  • liquid dairy manure
  • mitochondrial DNA mtDNA
  • 03502, Genetics - General
  • 03506, Genetics - Animal
  • 10062, Biochemistry studies - Nucleic acids, purines and pyrimidines
  • 31000, Physiology and biochemistry of bacteria
  • 31500, Genetics of bacteria and viruses
  • 37015, Public health - Air, water and soil pollution
  • 40000, Soil microbiology
  • 52801, Soil science - General and methods
  • Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics
  • watershed monitoring program applied and field techniques
  • Molecular Genetics
  • Pollution Assessment Control and Management
  • Soil Science
  • Agricultural runoff
  • Agriculture
  • DNA
  • Escherichia coli
  • Manures
  • Soil moisture
  • Agricultural fields
  • Agricultural soils
  • Agronomic practices
  • Application rates
  • Differential decays
  • Landscape positions
  • Manure applications
  • Population structures
  • Decay (organic)


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