Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2019NJ178B

Bugs on drugs: the influence of environmental conditions on the microbial degradation of pharmaceuticals and bacterial community structure in the Raritan River

Institute: New Jersey
Year Established: 2019 Start Date: 2019-06-01 End Date: 2020-05-31
Total Federal Funds: $5,000 Total Non-Federal Funds: $10,000

Principal Investigators: Michelle Zeliph

Abstract: Pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) are emerging contaminants in aquatic ecosystems throughout the world. The major goal of this project is to determine how environmental conditions, including redox and PPCP input, impact the biodegradability of select PPCP compounds and the bacterial communities responsible for their degradation in anoxic estuarine sediments. Cultures to determine rates and extent of degradation will be established using site water and sediment collected from five sites with known PPCP contamination within the Raritan River between the Raritan Bay and New Brunswick, NJ. Anaerobic techniques will be used to establish and sample cultures. Cultures will be spiked with four analgesic/antipyretic compounds as model PPCPs and sampled periodically. Degradation and transformation of these compounds will be monitored by high performance liquid chromatography and detected metabolites will be identified by liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry. Enrichment cultures will be established from actively degrading cultures. Ribosome profiling and ribosomal operon analysis via the Oxford Nanopore MinION system will be used to characterize and quantify active bacterial community members in highly enriched cultures. Strains of anaerobic bacteria responsible for the degradation of select PPCPs will also be isolated and characterized. It is hypothesized that both the extent of biodegradation and the microorganisms responsible will be dependent on the site conditions and PPCP. By determining the extent of degradation of select PPCPs under different environmental conditions and the microbial community responsible, fundamental knowledge will be gained and fill major gaps in the current understanding of the environmental fate of PPCPs.