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Impact of Seasonal Variations and Nutrient Inputs on Nitrogen Cycling and Degradation of Hexadecane by Replicated River Biofilms

American Society for Microbiology
Publication Date
  • Environmental Microbiology And Biodegradation


Biofilm communities cultivated in rotating annular bioreactors using water from the South Saskatchewan River were assessed for the effects of seasonal variations and nutrient (C, N, and P) additions. Confocal laser microscopy revealed that while control biofilms were consistently dominated by bacterial biomass, the addition of nutrients shifted biofilms of summer and fall water samples to phototrophic-dominated communities. In nutrient-amended biofilms, similar patterns of nitrification, denitrification, and hexadecane mineralization rates were observed for winter and spring biofilms; fall biofilms had the highest rates of nitrification and hexadecane mineralization, and summer biofilms had the highest rates of denitrification. Very low rates of all measured activities were detected in control biofilms (without nutrient addition) regardless of season. Nutrient addition caused large increases in hexadecane mineralization and denitrification rates but only modest increases, if any, in nitrification rates, depending upon the season. Generally, both alkB and nirK were more readily PCR amplified from nutrient-amended biofilms. Both genes were amplified from all samples except for nirK from the fall control biofilm. It appears that bacterial production in the South Saskatchewan River water is limited by the availability of nutrients and that biofilm activities and composition vary with nutrient availability and time of year.

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