The occurrence and transportation of antibiotics in biofilms from natural and engineered sources have attracted increasing interests. Nevertheless, the effects of extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) on the responses of biofilms to the exposure to antibiotics are not clear. In this study, the effects of EPS on the sorption and biological responses to one representative antibiotic, sulfamethizole (STZ), in model biofilms were investigated. Proteins dominated the interactions between the EPS and the STZ and the EPS from a moving bed biofilm reactor exhibited the strongest interaction with the STZ. The EPS served as important reservoirs for the STZ and the tested biofilms all showed reduced sorption capacities for the STZ after the EPS were extracted. The respiratory rates and typical enzymatic activities were reduced after the EPS were extracted. High-throughput 16S rRNA gene sequencing results confirmed that the bacterial community in the biofilm without the EPS was more vulnerable to antibiotic shock as indicated by the community diversity and richness indices. A greater increase in the abundance of susceptible species was observed in the natural biofilm. The results comprehensively suggested that the EPS played important role in biosorption of STZ and alleviated the direct damage of the antibiotic to the cells; in addition the extent of the bacterial community response was associated with the origins of the biofilms. Our study provided details on the responses of multi-species biofilms to the exposure to an antibiotic and highlighted the role of the EPS in interacting with the antibiotic, thereby providing a deeper understanding of the bioremediation of antibiotics in real-life natural and engineered biofilm systems.
Environmental Pollution – Elsevier
Published: Apr 1, 2018
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