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Emilie Diesbourg

Field Toxicology & Environmental Monitoring

DBHSC 2032




Microbiomes of freshwater insects and riparian spiders downstream of municipal wastewater discharges in the Bow River, AB


The host microbiome is essential for host immune function, metabolism, and digestion. Alterations in these microbes, known as dysbiosis, generally results in adverse effects to the host, including diseases. Dysbiosis can be induced from exposures to various anthropogenic contaminants including constituents of municipal wastewater treatment effluents (MWWEs). Despite MWWEs being one of the largest dischargers to aquatic ecosystems, impacts of these contaminants on exposed aquatic insect microbiomes is unclear. Some aquatic contaminants may transfer to riparian habitats through predation on emergent insects that were exposed to contaminants as larvae, and subsequently alter microbiomes of terrestrial predators. Our study evaluated whether MWWEs altered microbiomes of freshwater larval and adult insects and their riparian spider predators using effluent-associated bacteria and stable nitrogen isotopes (δ15N) to confirm effluent exposure. We analyzed microbiome compositions through sequencing of the V3-V4 hypervariable region of the 16S rRNA gene. We found that insects and spiders were enriched in δ15N at one site downstream of wastewater outfalls, indicating exposure to effluents and transfer of nutrients to terrestrial ecosystems. Microbiomes of most larval and adult insects were altered downstream of wastewater outfalls and had lower relative abundances of endosymbiont bacteria, shifts in bacterial diversities, and increases in abundances of effluent-associated bacteria than those collected at upstream sites. However, spider microbiomes had little evidence of dysbiosis, and were distinct from those of adult insects, despite a close association in their isotopic signatures. Overall, this study provides evidence of biological impacts from MWWEs to exposed insects and suggests that changes in microbial communities of invertebrates may be used as an effective indicator of effluent exposure as part of monitoring frameworks.

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