First, at the upper reach, we observed an inhibition of some microbial functions (microbial respiration and extracellular enzyme activities) and strong shifts in bacterial community composition (16S rRNA gene), whereas an increase in microbial biomass and activity and less pronounced effect on microbial diversity and community composition were seen at the lower reach.
Second, at the lower reach we observed a quick spatial recovery (around 200 m downstream of the effluent) as most of the functions and community composition were similar to those from reference sites. On the other hand, bacterial community composition and water quality at the upper reach was still altered 1 km from the WWTP effluent.
Our results indicate that biofilms in the upstream sites were more sensitive to the effect of WWTPs due to a lower degree of tolerance after a disturbance than communities located in more anthropogenically impacted sites.
Freixa, A.; Perujo, N.; Langenheder, S. and Romaní, A.M. (2020). River biofilms adapted to anthropogenic disturbances are more resistant to WWTP inputs. FEMS Microbiology Ecology, Volume 96, Issue 9. In press.