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Effects of chronic pollution and water flow intermittency on stream biofilms biodegradation capacity

Rožman, Marko, Acuña, Vicenç, Petrović, Mira
Environmental pollution 2018 v.233 pp. 1131-1137
biodegradability, biodegradation, biofilm, case studies, diclofenac, ephemeral streams, erythromycin, imidacloprid, pollution, sulfisoxazole, water flow
A mesocosm case study was conducted to gain understanding and practical knowledge on biofilm emerging contaminants biodegradation capacity under stressor and multiple stressor conditions. Two real life scenarios: I) biodegradation in a pristine intermittent stream experiencing acute pollution and II) biodegradation in a chronically polluted intermittent stream, were examined via a multifactorial experiment using an artificial stream facility. Stream biofilms were exposed to different water flow conditions i.e. permanent and intermittent water flow. Venlafaxine, a readily biodegradable pharmaceutical was used as a measure of biodegradation capacity while pollution was simulated by a mixture of four emerging contaminants (erythromycin, sulfisoxazole, diclofenac and imidacloprid in addition to venlafaxine) in environmentally relevant concentrations. Biodegradation kinetics monitored via LC-MS/MS was established, statistically evaluated, and used to link biodegradation with stress events. The results suggest that the effects of intermittent flow do not hinder and may even stimulate pristine biofilm biodegradation capacity. Chronic pollution completely reduced biodegradation in permanent water flow experimental treatments while no change in intermittent streams was observed. A combined effect of water flow conditions and emerging contaminants exposure on biodegradation was found. The decrease in biodegradation due to exposure to emerging contaminants is significantly greater in streams with permanent water flow suggesting that the short and medium term biodegradation capacity in intermittent systems may be preserved or even greater than in perennial streams.