Nano-TiO2 is an engineered nanomaterial whose production and use are increasing rapidly. Hence, aquatic habitats are at risk for nano-TiO2 contamination due to potential inputs from urban and suburban runoff and domestic wastewater. Nano-TiO2 has been shown to be toxic to a wide range of aquatic organisms, but little is known about the effects of nano-TiO2 on benthic microbial communities. This study used artificial stream mesocosms to assess the effects of a single addition of nano-TiO2 (P25 at a final concentration of 1 mg l−1) on the abundance, activity, and community composition of sediment-associated bacterial communities. The addition of nano-TiO2 resulted in a rapid (within 1 day) decrease in bacterial abundance in artificial stream sediments, but bacterial abundance returned to control levels within 3 weeks. Pyrosequencing of partial 16S rRNA genes did not indicate any significant changes in the relative abundance of any bacterial taxa with nano-TiO2 treatment, indicating that nano-TiO2 was toxic to a broad range of bacterial taxa and that recovery of the bacterial communities was not driven by changes in community composition. Addition of nano-TiO2 also resulted in short-term increases in respiration rates and denitrification enzyme activity, with both returning to control levels within 3 weeks. The results of this study demonstrate that single-pulse additions of nano-TiO2 to aquatic habitats have the potential to significantly affect the abundance and activity of benthic microbial communities and suggest that interactions of TiO2 nanoparticles with environmental matrices may limit the duration of their toxicity.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Soil Science