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Microbial community structure of a freshwater system receiving wastewater effluent

Abstract

Despite our dependency on treatment facilities to condition wastewater for eventual release to the environment, our knowledge regarding the effects of treated water on the local watershed is extremely limited. Responses of lotic systems to the treated wastewater effluent have been traditionally investigated by examining the benthic macroinvertebrate assemblages and community structure; however, these studies do not address the microbial diversity of the water systems. In the present study, planktonic and benthic bacterial community structure were examined at 14 sites (from 60 m upstream to 12,100 m downstream) and at two time points along an aquatic system receiving treated effluent from the Charleston Wastewater Treatment Plant (Charleston, IL). Total bacterial DNA was isolated and 16S rRNA sequences were analyzed using a metagenomics platform. The community structure in planktonic bacterial communities was significantly correlated with dissolved oxygen concentration. Benthic bacterial communities were not correlated with water quality but did have a significant geographic structuring. A local restructuring effect was observed in both planktonic and benthic communities near the treated wastewater effluent, which was characterized by an increase in abundance of sphingobacteria. Sites further downstream from the wastewater facility appeared to be less influenced by the effluent. Overall, the present study demonstrated the utility of targeted high-throughput sequencing as a tool to assess the effects of treated wastewater effluent on a receiving water system, and highlighted the potential for this technology to be used for routine monitoring by wastewater facilities.

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Acknowledgments

This work was supported by a Council on Faculty Research grant by Eastern Illinois University to Drs. Novak and Canam and a Graduate Assistantship provided to the Department of Biological Sciences at Eastern Illinois University by the City of Charleston, IL, through the Charleston Wastewater Treatment Plant

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Correspondence to Thomas Canam.

Electronic supplementary material

Fig. S1

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Fig. S2

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Table S1

The number of organizational taxonomic units (OTUs) at the family level for all planktonic and benthic samples at T1 (November 18, 2011) and T2 (November 25, 2011) (XLSX 2308 kb)

Table S2

(DOCX 15 kb)

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Hladilek, M.D., Gaines, K.F., Novak, J.M. et al. Microbial community structure of a freshwater system receiving wastewater effluent. Environ Monit Assess 188, 626 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10661-016-5630-7

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10661-016-5630-7

Keywords

  • 16S rRNA
  • Effluent
  • Microbiome
  • Wastewater