Molecular and microscopic assessment of the effects of caffeine, acetaminophen, diclofenac, and their mixtures on river biofilm communities



The authors examined effects of three common contaminants, caffeine (CF), acetaminophen (AC), and diclofenac (DF), as well as their mixtures on the development, functioning, and biodiversity of river biofilm communities. Biofilms were cultivated in rotating annular reactors. Treatments included AC, CF, DF, AC + CF, AC + DF, CF + DF, AC + CF + DF at 5 µg/L, and their molar equivalent as carbon and nutrients. Incubations using 14C-labeled AC, DF, and CF indicated that 90% of the CF, 80% of the AC, and less than 2% of the DF were converted to CO2. Digital imaging revealed a variety of effects on algal, cyanobacterial, and bacterial biomass. Algal biomass was unaffected by AC or CF in combination with DF but significantly reduced by all other treatments. Cyanobacterial biomass was influenced only by the AC + DF application. All treatments other than AC resulted in a significant decrease in bacterial biomass. Diclofenac or DF + CF and DF + AC resulted in increases in micrometazoan grazing. The denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis of Eubacterial community DNA, evaluated by principal component analysis and analysis of similarity, indicated that relative to the control, all treatments had effects on microbial community structure (r = 0.47, p < 0.001). However, the AC + CF + DF treatment was not significantly different from its molar equivalent carbon and nutrient additions. The Archaeal community differed significantly in its response to these exposures based on community analyses, confirming a need to integrate these organisms into ecotoxicological studies. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 2012;31:508–517. © 2011 SETAC