Behavior of lead in a model microbial predator-prey system

Authors

  • Leslie E. Patton,

    1. School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Cornell University, Olin Hall, Ithaca, New York 14853, USA
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  • Michael L. Shuler,

    1. School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Cornell University, Olin Hall, Ithaca, New York 14853, USA
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  • Leonard W. Lion

    Corresponding author
    1. School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Cornell University, Olin Hall, Ithaca, New York 14853, USA
    • School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Cornell University, Olin Hall, Ithaca, New York 14853, USA
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Abstract

Predation at the microbial level can affect the fate of toxic trace metals. Metals associated with bacterial prey can be released into the dissolved phase following digestion by a predator, and/or metals can remain in the predator and be transferred potentially to the next level of the food chain. Toxic metal ions in the aqueous phase also are expected to modify the growth and predation rate of a microbial predator. A model predator-prey system was developed to test the effects of Pb on cells and to help elucidate the fate of Pb in this type of interaction. Established methods that have been shown to be suitable for distinguishing dissolved, prey-bound, predator-bound, and ingested Pb were used to establish the pathway of Pb over time. Growth parameters were measured using batch reactors for the protozoan predator Tetrahymena thermophila and the bacterial prey Pseudomonas putida without Pb and at several concentrations of Pb. The effect of prey density on predation and Pb phase distribution also was investigated. Results demonstrate that some kinetic parameters related to prey consumption and growth of T. thermophila are altered by Pb. Upon addition of predator to prey cells in equilibrium with dissolved Pb, dissolved and prey-bound Pb become associated with the predator through ingestion and adsorption. Ingested Pb is excreted later as a bound metal associated with T. thermophila waste matter. A preliminary mathematical model was developed to describe predator-prey dynamics and their influence on the behavior and fate of Pb. Growth data were used to obtain model parameters, and model simulations for Pb fractionation are compared to experimental observations.

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