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Chemical mixtures and fluorescence in situ hybridization analysis of natural microbial community in the Tiber river

Saccà, Maria Ludovica, Ferrero, Valentina Elisabetta Viviana, Loos, Robert, Di Lenola, Martina, Tavazzi, Simona, Grenni, Paola, Ademollo, Nicoletta, Patrolecco, Luisa, Huggett, Jim, Caracciolo, Anna Barra, Lettieri, Teresa
The Science of the total environment 2019 v.673 pp. 7-19
bacteria, benthic organisms, case studies, chemical pollutants, coastal water, community structure, fish, fluorescence in situ hybridization, freshwater, freshwater ecosystems, microalgae, microbial communities, nutrients, phylogeny, physicochemical properties, phytoplankton, remediation, rivers, surveys, temperature, urban areas, water quality, Italy
The Water Framework Directive (WFD) regulates freshwater and coastal water quality assessment in Europe. Chemical and ecological water quality status is based on measurements of chemical pollutants in water and biota together with other indicators such as temperature, nutrients, species compositions (phytoplankton, microalgae, benthos and fish) and hydromorphological conditions. However, in the current strategy a link between the chemical and the ecological status is missing. In the present WFD, no microbiological indicators are foreseen for integrating the different anthropogenic pressures, including mixtures of chemicals, nutrients and temperature changes, to provide a holistic view of the freshwater ecosystem water quality. The main aim of this work was to evaluate if natural microbial populations can be valuable indicators of multiple stressors (e.g. chemical pollutants, temperature, nutrients etc.) to guide preventive and remediation actions by water authorities. A preliminary survey was conducted to identify four sites reflecting a contamination gradient from the source to the mouth of a river suitable to the objectives of the European Marie Curie project, MicroCoKit. The River Tiber (Italy) was selected as a pilot case study to investigate the correlation between bacteria taxa and the chemical status of the river. The main physicochemical parameters, inorganic elements, organic pollutants and natural microbial community composition were assessed at four selected sites corresponding to pristine, agricultural, industrial and urban areas for three consecutive years.The overall chemical results indicated a correspondence between different groups of contaminants and the main contamination sources at the selected sampling points. Phylogenetic analysis of the microbial community analyzed by Fluorescence In Situ Hybridization method (FISH) revealed differences among the four sampling sites which could reflect an adaptive bacterial response to the different anthropogenic pressures.