Stability of the total and functional microbial communities in river sediment mesocosms exposed to anthropogenic disturbances

B.M. van der Zaan, H. Smidt, W.M. de Vos, H. Rijnaarts, J. Gerritse

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12 Citations (Scopus)


River systems are exposed to anthropogenic disturbances, including chemical pollution and eutrophication. This may affect the phylogenetic diversity as well as the abundance of various functional groups within sediment-associated microbial communities. To address such potential effects, mesocosms filled with Ebro delta sediment covered with river water were exposed to chlorinated organic compounds or to a high nutrient concentration as used for fertilization. Changes in the abundance of selected functional microbial groups, i.e. total aerobes, nitrate, sulfate and iron reducers, organohalide-respiring microorganisms as well as methanogens, were examined using culture-dependent most probable number and culture-independent PCR methods targeting phylogenetic as well as functional gene markers. It was concluded that the abundance of functional groups was neither affected by pollution with 1,2-dichloroethane and tetrachloroethene nor by elevated nutrient loads, although changes in the bacterial community composition were observed using 16S rRNA gene-targeted fingerprint techniques. This study reinforced the notion that complementary culture-dependent and molecular methods, focusing on different fractions of the microbial community (cultivable, active or total), should be used in combination for a comprehensive description of phylogenetic diversity and functional potential
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)72-82
JournalFEMS Microbiology Ecology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • real-time pcr
  • reducing bacteria
  • soil bacterial
  • pollution
  • dehalococcoides
  • diversity
  • nitrogen
  • genes
  • water
  • mineralization

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