Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 27594854
Front Microbiol 2016;7:1303
Benthic microorganisms are key players in the recycling of organic matter and recalcitrant compounds such as polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in coastal sediments. Despite their ecological importance, the response of microbial communities to chronic PAH pollution, one of the major threats to coastal ecosystems, has received very little attention. In one of the largest surveys performed so far on coastal sediments, the diversity and composition of microbial communities inhabiting both chronically contaminated and non-contaminated coastal sediments were investigated using high-throughput sequencing on the 18S and 16S rRNA genes. Prokaryotic alpha-diversity showed significant association with salinity, temperature, and organic carbon content. The effect of particle size distribution was strong on eukaryotic diversity. Similarly to alpha-diversity, beta-diversity patterns were strongly influenced by the environmental filter, while PAHs had no influence on the prokaryotic community structure and a weak impact on the eukaryotic community structure at the continental scale. However, at the regional scale, PAHs became the main driver shaping the structure of bacterial and eukaryotic communities. These patterns were not found for PICRUSt predicted prokaryotic functions, thus indicating some degree of functional redundancy. Eukaryotes presented a greater potential for their use as PAH contamination biomarkers, owing to their stronger response at both regional and continental scales.