Effects of 18 pharmaceuticals on the physiological diversity of edaphic microorganisms.
Sci Total Environ. 2017 Apr 7 ;595:441-450. Epub 2017 Apr 7. PMID: 28395259
Mª Rosa Pino-Otín
Pharmaceutical residues can enter the terrestrial environment through the application of recycled water and contaminated biosolids to agricultural soils, were edaphic microfauna can would be threatened. This study thus assessed the effect of 18 widely consumed pharmaceuticals, belonging to four groups: antibiotics, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), blood lipid-lowering agents (BLLA) andβ-blockers, on the physiology of soil microbial communities from a ecological crop field. Biolog EcoPlates, containing 31 of the most common carbon sources found in forest and crop soils, were used to calculate both the averaged well colour development (AWCD), as an indicator of the entire capacityof degrading carbon sources, and the diversity of carbon source utilization, as an indicator of the physiological diversity. The results show that pharmaceuticals impact microbial communities by changing the ability of microbes to metabolize different carbon sources, thus affecting the metabolic diversity of the soil community. The toxicity of the pharmaceuticals was inversely related to the log Kow; indeed, NSAIDs were the least toxic and antibiotics were the most toxic, while BLLA and β-blockers presented intermediate toxicity. The antibiotic sulfamethoxazole imposed the greatest impact onmicrobial communities at concentrations from 100 mg/L, followed by the other two antibiotics (trimethoprim and tetracycline) and the β-blocker nadolol. Other chemical parameters (i.e. melting point, molecular weight, pKa or solubility) had little influence on toxicity. Microbial communities exposed to pharmaceuticals having similar physicochemical characteristics presented similar physiological diversity patterns of carbon substrate utilization. These results suggest that the repeated amendment of agricultural soils with biosolids or sludges containing pharmaceutical residuals may result insoil concentrations of concern regarding key ecological functions (i.e. the carbon cycle).