Author(s): Rao JR, Nelson D, Lafferty N, Moore JE, Millar BC,
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Abstract Spent mushroom compost (SMC) is a major waste of the mushroom industry with low economic value. SMC arises after mushroom production in phase II compost (pIIC), predominantly comprising straw and chicken litter as principal raw ingredients. The majority of SMC waste is disposed off by application to agricultural land. It is an attractive proposition for utilising SMC as soil inorganic fertiliser supplementation. However, there is limited data available as to the consequences of this method of disposal either in terms of microbiological loading of food-borne pathogens and those of concern to mushroom industry itself. The resulting imbalance of the natural flora of the agricultural land has not been properly audited. This study aims to initially examine SMC for prevalence of faecal bacterial pathogens including Campylobacter spp., Salmonella spp. and Listeria monocytogenes that may arise from chicken litter. At another level, it aims to ascertain the pathogenic bacteria (Pseudomonas syringae, pv phaseolicola or tolasii) and fungal populations (Trichoderma, Verticillium species) originating mainly from the straw component of the SMC, which are of concern to the mushroom industry. Lastly, the study would also qualitatively identify the diversity of bacterial populations within SMC. This was largely accomplished through employment of rDNA, PCR and direct sequencing strategies on the culturable microflora. However, for specific mushroom pathogens, nucleic acids (DNA or RNA) were directly extracted from composts before subjecting to sequence analysis. In accordance with the current legislation (ABP 02/02, Animal By Products wastes disposal EC No. 1774/2002), it is imperative to regulate the farm wastes carrying residues from animal sources including SMC before they are regarded safe for land spreading operations. The ecological microbe-microbe and plant-microbe interactions that potentially occur between the native bacterial soil flora and those added annually (approximately 10(18) cells) needs to be reviewed with caution. The above study highlights the ecological consequences involved in the disposal of SMC wastes on agricultural land and its implications for plant, animal and human health.
This article was published in Commun Agric Appl Biol Sci
and referenced in Journal of Aquaculture Research & Development