Spatial and temporal variability in the potential of river water biofilms to degrade p-nitrophenol

In order to predict the fate of chemicals in the environment, a range of regulatory tests are performed with microbial inocula collected from environmental compartments to investigate the potential for biodegradation. The abundance and distribution of microbes in the environment is affected by a range of variables, hence diversity and biomass of inocula used in biodegradation tests can be highly variable in space and time. The use of artificial or natural biofilms in regulatory tests could enable more consistent microbial communities be used as inocula, in order to increase test consistency. In this study, the authors investigated spatial and temporal variation in composition, biomass and chemical biodegradation potential of bacterial biofilms formed in river water. Sampling time and sampling location impacted the capacity of biofilms to degrade p-nitrophenol (PNP). Biofilm bacterial community structure varied across sampling times, but was not affected by sampling location. Degradation of PNP was associated with increased relative abundance of Pseudomonas syringae. Partitioning of the bacterial metacommunity into core and satellite taxa revealed that the P. syringae could be either a satellite or core member of the community across sampling times, but this had no impact on PNP degradation. Quantitative PCR analysis of the pnpA gene showed that it was present in all samples irrespective of their ability to degrade PNP. River biofilms showed seasonal variation in biomass, microbial community composition and PNP biodegradation potential, which resulted in inconsistent biodegradation test results. The authors discuss the results in the context of the mechanisms underlying variation in regulatory chemical degradation tests.

Authors: Kowalczyk A, Price OR, van der Gast CJ, Finnegan CJ, van Egmond RA, Schäfer H, Bending GD. ;Full Source: Chemosphere. 2016 Sep 2; 164:355-362. doi: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2016.08.095. [Epub ahead of print] ;