Effects of antibiotics on microbial community structure and microbial functions in constructed wetlands treated with artificial root exudates†
In the rhizosphere, plant root exudates can mediate the toxicity of antibiotics on microorganisms, yet the mechanisms are poorly understood. To simulate the antibiotic contamination of global rivers and lakes, the current study investigated the effects of two antibiotics (ofloxacin at 8.69 × 104 ng L−1 and tetracycline at 8.62 × 104 ng L−1) and their binary combination (8.24 × 104 ng L−1 ofloxacin and 7.11 × 104 ng L−1 tetracycline) on bacterial communities in micro-polluted constructed wetlands with and without artificial root exudates. The two antibiotics had no significant effects on the removal of excess carbon and nitrogen from the microcosms treated with and without exudates. Furthermore, with regard to bacterial community structure, antibiotic exposure increased the bacterial richness of bulk and exudate treated microcosms (P < 0.05). However, a significant increase (P < 0.05) in bacterial diversity elicited by ofloxacin and antibiotic mixture exposure was only observed in microcosms with exudates. In exudate treated microcosms, ofloxacin promoted the relative abundance of Arthrobacter spp., which are ofloxacin-resistant bacterial species, which significantly varied from what was observed in microcosms free of exudates. Moreover, tetracycline, ofloxacin and their combination all significantly increased the relative abundance of nitrogen cycling bacteria Rhizobacter spp. and Rhizobium spp., and decreased the relative abundance of antibiotic-resistant bacteria Pseudomonas spp. Simultaneously, with regard to bacterial community functions, the functional profiles (Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes) showed that the pathways of amino acid and carbohydrate metabolism were enhanced by antibiotics in microcosms with exudates. The findings illustrate that antibiotics not only alter the bacterial structure and composition but also change their functional properties in constructed wetlands, and these interruption effects could be affected by root exudates of plants, which may further reveal the ecological implication of plants in constructed wetlands.