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Robust Linuron Degradation in On-Farm Biopurification Systems Exposed to Sequential Environmental Changes

Sniegowski, Kristel, Bers, Karolien, Ryckeboer, Jaak, Jaeken, Peter, Spanoghe, Pieter, Springael, Dirk
Applied and environmental microbiology 2011 v.77 no.18 pp. 6614-6621
Variovorax, biodegradation, drought, environmental factors, farms, linuron, mineralization, pesticide mixtures, soil, wastewater
On-farm biopurification systems (BPS) treat pesticide-contaminated wastewater of farms through biodegradation. Adding pesticide-primed soil has been shown to be beneficial for the establishment of pesticide-degrading populations in BPS. However, no data exist on the response of pesticide-degrading microbiota, either endogenous or introduced with pesticide-primed soil, when BPS are exposed to expected less favorable environmental conditions like cold periods, drought periods, and periods without a pesticide supply. Therefore, the response of microbiota mineralizing the herbicide linuron in BPS microcosm setups inoculated either with a linuron-primed soil or a nonprimed soil to a sequence of such less favorable conditions was examined. A period without linuron supply or a drought period reduced the size of the linuron-mineralizing community in both setups. The most severe effect was recorded for the setup containing nonprimed soil, in which stopping the linuron supply decreased the linuron degradation capacity to nondetectable levels. In both systems, linuron mineralization rapidly reestablished after conventional operation conditions were restored. A cold period and feeding with a pesticide mixture did not affect linuron mineralization. The changes in the linuron-mineralizing capacity in microcosms containing primed soil were associated with the dynamics of a particular Variovorax phylotype that previously had been associated with linuron mineralization. This study suggests that the pesticide-mineralizing community in BPS is robust in stress situations imposed by changes in environmental conditions expected to occur on farms. Moreover, it suggests that, in cases where effects do occur, recovery is rapid after restoring conventional operation conditions.