Modulation of microbial growth and enzymatic activities in the marine environment due to exposure to organic contaminants of emerging concern and hydrocarbons
Centre for Marine Ecosystem Research
Funding information available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.04.361
Organic pollutants are continuously being introduced in seawater with uncharacterized impacts on the engines of the marine biogeochemical cycles, the microorganisms. The effects on marine microbial communities were assessed for perfluoroalkyl substances, organophosphate esters flame retardants and plasticizers, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and n-alkanes. Dose-response experiments were performed at three stations and at three depths in the NW Mediterranean with contrasted nutrient and pollutant concentrations. In these experiments, the microbial growth rates, the abundances of the main bacterial groups, measured by Catalyzed Reporter Deposition Fluorescence In Situ Hybridization (CARD-FISH), and extracellular enzymatic activities, were quantified. Increasing concentrations of organic pollutants (OPs) promoted different responses in the communities that were compound, organism and nutrient availability (trophic status). The largest differences between OP treatments and controls in the growth rates of both heterotrophic and phototrophic microbial groups were observed in seawater from the deep chlorophyll maxima. Furthermore, there was a compound specific stimulation of different extracellular enzymatic activities after the exposure to OPs. Our results revealed that marine microbial communities reacted not only to hydrocarbons, known to be used as a carbon source, but also to low concentrations of organic pollutants of emerging concern in a complex manner, reflecting the variability of various environmental variables. Multiple linear regressions suggested that organic pollutants modulated the bacterial growth and extracellular enzymatic activities, but this modulation was of lower magnitude than the observed pronounced response of the microbial community to nutrient availability.