Stadler, L. B., Vela, J. D., Jain, S., Dick, G. J., & Love, N. G. (2017). Elucidating the impact of microbial community biodiversity on pharmaceutical biotransformation during wastewater treatment. Microbial Biotechnology,10(6). doi:10.1111/1751-7915.12870
In addition to removing organics and other nutrients, the microorganisms in wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) biotransform many pharmaceuticals present in wastewater. The objective of this study was to examine the relationship between pharmaceutical biotransformation and biodiversity in WWTP bioreactor microbial communities and identify taxa and functional genes that were strongly associated with biotransformation. Dilution-to-extinction of an activated sludge microbial community was performed to establish cultures with a gradient of microbial biodiversity. Batch experiments were performed using the dilution cultures to determine biotransformation extents of several environmentally relevant pharmaceuticals. With this approach, because the communities were all established from the same original community, and using sequencing of the 16S rRNA and metatranscriptome, we identified candidate taxa and genes whose activity and transcript abundances associated with the extent of individual pharmaceutical biotransformation and were lost across the biodiversity gradient. Metabolic genes such as dehydrogenases, amidases and monooxygenases were significantly associated with pharmaceutical biotransformation, and five genera were identified whose activity significantly associated with pharmaceutical biotransformation. Understanding how biotransformation relates to biodiversity will inform the design of biological WWTPs for enhanced removal of chemicals that negatively impact environmental health.
I thought this paper was relevant to what we recently discussed in class, especially with chemical and pharmaceutical contaminants becoming so prevalent in our waste water.