Advanced biofilm analysis in streams receiving organic deicer runoff

PLoS ONE
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Abstract

Prolific heterotrophic biofilm growth is a common occurrence in airport receiving streams containing deicers and anti-icers, which are composed of low-molecular weight organic compounds. This study investigated biofilm spatiotemporal patterns and responses to concurrent and antecedent (i.e., preceding biofilm sampling) environmental conditions at stream sites upstream and downstream from Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, during two deicing seasons (2009–2010; 2010–2011). Biofilm abundance and community composition were investigated along spatial and temporal gradients using field surveys and microarray analyses, respectively. Given the recognized role of Sphaerotilus in organically enriched environments, additional analyses were pursued to specifically characterize its abundance: a consensus sthA sequence was determined via comparison of whole metagenome sequences with a previously identified sthA sequence, the primers developed for this gene were used to characterize relative Sphaerotilus abundance using quantitative real-time PCR, and a Sphaerotilus strain was isolated to validate the determined sthA sequence. Results indicated that biofilm abundance was stimulated by elevated antecedent chemical oxygen demand concentrations, a surrogate for deicer concentrations, with minimal biofilm volumes observed when antecedent chemical oxygen demand concentrations remained below 48 mg/L. Biofilms were composed of diverse communities (including sheathed bacterium Thiothrix) whose composition appeared to shift in relation to antecedent temperature and chemical oxygen demand. The relative abundance of sthA correlated most strongly with heterotrophic biofilm volume (positive) and dissolved oxygen (negative), indicating that Sphaerotilus was likely a consistent biofilm member and thrived under low oxygen conditions. Additional investigations identified the isolate as a new strain of Sphaerotilus montanus (strain KMKE) able to use deicer components as carbon sources and found that stream dissolved oxygen concentrations related inversely to biofilm volume as well as to antecedent temperature and chemical oxygen demand. The airport setting provides insight into potential consequences of widescale adoption of organic deicers for roadway deicing.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Advanced biofilm analysis in streams receiving organic deicer runoff
Series title PLoS ONE
DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0227567
Volume 15
Issue 1
Year Published 2020
Language English
Publisher PLOS
Contributing office(s) Upper Midwest Water Science Center
Description 27 p.
Country United States
State Wisconsin
City Milwaukee
Other Geospatial Mitchell International Airport