• Insights into the transcriptional responses of a microbial community to silver nanoparticles in a freshwater microcosm.

      Lu, Tao; Qu, Qian; Lavoie, Michel; Pan, Xiangjie; Peijnenburg, W J G M; Zhou, Zhigao; Pan, Xiangliang; Cai, Zhiqiang; Qian, Haifeng (2020-03-01)
      Silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) are widely used because of their excellent antibacterial properties. They are, however, easily discharged into the water environment, causing potential adverse environmental effects. Meta-transcriptomic analyses are helpful to study the transcriptional response of prokaryotic and eukaryotic aquatic microorganisms to AgNPs. In the present study, microcosms were used to investigate the toxicity of AgNPs to a natural aquatic microbial community. It was found that a 7-day exposure to 10 μg L-1 silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) dramatically affected the structure of the microbial community. Aquatic micro eukaryota (including eukaryotic algae, fungi, and zooplankton) and bacteria (i.e., heterotrophic bacteria and cyanobacteria) responded differently to the AgNPs stress. Meta-transcriptomic analyses demonstrated that eukaryota could use multiple cellular strategies to cope with AgNPs stress, such as enhancing nitrogen and sulfur metabolism, over-expressing genes related to translation, amino acids biosynthesis, and promoting bacterial-eukaryotic algae interactions. By contrast, bacteria were negatively affected by AgNPs with less signs of detoxification than in case of eukaryota; various pathways related to energy metabolism, DNA replication and genetic repair were seriously inhibited by AgNPs. As a result, eukaryotic algae (mainly Chlorophyta) dominated over cyanobacteria in the AgNPs treated microcosms over the 7-d exposure. The present study helps to understand the effects of AgNPs on aquatic microorganisms and provides insights into the contrasting AgNPs toxicity in eukaryota and bacteria.