Bacterial communities as indicators of environmental pollution by POPs in marine sediments


Decades of intensive discharge from industrial activities into coastal systems has resulted in the accumulation of a variety of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in marine waters and sediments, having detrimental impacts on aquatic ecosystems and the resident biota. POPs are among the most hazardous chemicals originating from industrial activities due to their biotoxicity and resistance to environmental degradation. Bacterial communities are known to break down many of these aromatic compounds, and different members of naturally occurring bacterial consortia have been described to work in syntrophic association to thrive in heavily contaminated waters and sediments, making them potential candidates as bioindicators of environmental pollution. In this study environmental, sampling was combined with chemical analysis of pollutants and high-resolution sequencing of bacterial communities using Next Generation Sequencing molecular biology tools. The aim of the present study was to describe the bacterial communities from marine sediments containing high loads of POPs and to identify relevant members of the resident microbial communities that may act as bioindicators of contamination. Marine sediments were collected from a coastal bay area of the Baltic Sea historically influenced by intense industrial activity, including metal smelting, oil processing, and pulp and paper production. Different types of POPs were detected at high concentrations. Fiberbank sediments, resulting from historic paper industry activity, were found to harbour a clearly distinct bacterial community including a number of bacterial taxa capable of cellulolytic and dechlorination activities. Our findings indicate that specific members of the bacterial communities thrive under increasing levels of POPs in marine sediments, and that the abundances of certain taxa correlate with specific POPs (or groups), which could potentially be employed in monitoring, status assessment and environmental management purposes.

Authors: Juanjo Rodríguez, Christine M J Gallampois, Peter Haglund, Sari Timonen, Owen Rowe
; Full Source: Environmental pollution (Barking, Essex : 1987) 2020 Sep 25;268(Pt A):115690. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2020.115690.