Author(s): Hoostal MJ, BidartBouzat MG, Bouzat JL
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Abstract Microbial communities must balance the assimilation of biologically necessary metals with resistance to toxic metal concentrations. To investigate the impact of heavy metal contaminants on microbial communities, we performed two experiments measuring extracellular enzyme activities (EEA) in polluted and unpolluted sediments of Lake Erie. In the first experiment, inoculations with moderate concentrations of copper and zinc appreciably diminished EEA from uncontaminated sites, whereas EEA from contaminated sediments increased or were only negligibly affected. In the second experiment, we compared the effects of three separate metals (i.e. copper, arsenic, and cadmium) on microbial community metabolism in polluted and unpolluted locations. Although copper and arsenic elicited differential effects by inhibiting EEA only in unpolluted sediments, cadmium inhibited EEA in both polluted and unpolluted sediments. Multivariate analyses of EEA from polluted sediments revealed direct associations among hydrolytic enzymes and inverse or absent associations between hydrolases and oxidases; these associations demonstrated resilience to heavy metal stress. In contrast, addition of heavy metals to unpolluted sediments appeared to have a higher impact on the multivariate pattern of EEA associations as revealed by an increase in the number of associations, more inverse relationships, and potential enzymatic trade-offs. The results of this study suggest community-level adaptations through the development of resistance mechanisms to the types and local levels of heavy metals in the environment.
This article was published in FEMS Microbiol Ecol
and referenced in Journal of Bioremediation & Biodegradation