Intermediate levels of predation and nutrient enrichment enhance the activity of ibuprofen degrading bacteria

Ignacio Peralta-Maraver, Cyrus Rutere, Marcus A. Horn, Isabel Reche, Volker Behrends, Julia Reiss, Anne Robertson

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© 2022, Springer Nature Switzerland AG. The attached document (embargoed until 08/09/2023) is an author produced version of a paper published in MICROBIAL ECOLOGY uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy. The final published version (version of record) is available online at the link. Some minor differences between this version and the final published version may remain. We suggest you refer to the final published version should you wish to cite from it.

Water is the most indispensable natural resource; yet, organic pollution of freshwater sources is widespread. In recent years, there has been increasing concern over the vast array of emerging organic contaminants (EOCs) in the effluent of wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs). Several of these EOCs are degraded within the pore space of riverbeds by active microbial consortia. However, the mechanisms behind this ecosystem service are largely unknown. Here, we report how phosphate concentration and predator-prey interactions drive the capacity of bacteria to process a model EOC (ibuprofen). The presence of phosphate had a significant positive effect on the population growth rate of an ibuprofen-degrading strain. Thus, when phosphate was present, ibuprofen removal efficiency increased. Moreover, low and medium levels of predation, by a ciliated protozoan, stimulated bacterial population growth. This unimodal effect of predation was lost under high phosphate concentration, resulting in the flattening of the relationships between predator density and population growth of ibuprofen degraders. Our results suggest that moderate nutrient and predation levels promote the growth rate of bacterial degraders and, consequently, the self-purifying capability of the system. These findings enhance our understanding of the mechanisms by which riverbed communities drive the processing of EOCs. [Abstract copyright: © 2022. The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.]
Original languageEnglish
JournalMicrobial Ecology
Early online date16 Sept 2022
Publication statusPublished - 16 Sept 2022


  • Bioremediation
  • Experiment
  • Food web
  • Micropollutants
  • Tetrahymena pyriformis

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