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Effects of Triclosan and Biosolids on Microbial Community Composition in an Agricultural Soil

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Triclosan (TCS) is a widely used antimicrobial agent found at high concentrations in biosolids produced during municipal wastewater treatment. The effect of adding TCS, in the presence or absence of biosolids, on the composition of an agricultural soil microbial community was measured using phospholipid fatty acid analysis (PLFA). Most changes observed in microbial community composition were attributable to the addition of biosolids or to the passage of time, with smaller changes due to TCS exposure, regardless of the presence of biosolids. TCS slightly reduced the relative abundance of Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria and fungi, with or without biosolids. Bacteria were more sensitive than eukaryotes, consistent with the mode of action of TCS, which selectively targets fatty acid synthesis and disrupts cell membranes of bacteria. TCS slightly increased biomarkers of microbial stress, but stress biomarkers were lower in all biosolid treated soils, presumably due to increased availability of nutrients mitigating potential TCS toxicity.

Keywords: Triclosan; antimicrobial; biosolid; personal care products; phospholipid fatty acid (PLFA); soil microbial community

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: December 1, 2013

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  • Water Environment Research® (WER®) publishes peer-reviewed research papers, research notes, state-of-the-art and critical reviews on original, fundamental and applied research in all scientific and technical areas related to water quality, pollution control, and management. An annual Literature Review provides a review of published books and articles on water quality topics from the previous year.

    Published as: Sewage Works Journal, 1928 - 1949; Sewage and Industrial Wastes, 1950 - 1959; Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, 1959 - Oct 1989; Research Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, Nov 1989 - 1991; Water Environment Research, 1992 - present.
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