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Journal Articles Science of the Total Environment Year : 2022

Community metabolomics provides insights into mechanisms of pollution-induced community tolerance of periphyton

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Abstract

Chemical pollution is a major concern for freshwater ecosystems, but the impact and mechanisms of chemical stressors on communities are barely understood. Pollution stress beyond natural homeostatic capacities can trigger succession of tolerant species within a community, enhancing the overall community tolerance. This process was operationalized in the Pollution-Induced Community Tolerance (PICT) concept and applied in many case studies, however, the molecular mechanisms of community tolerance and implications for ecological functions remain largely unexplored. Our study aimed to demonstrate that 1) community metabolomics can unravel potential mechanisms of PICT in periphyton and 2) induced tolerance helps to maintain primary production under re-occuring pollution. To this end, we grew periphyton for 5 weeks with and without the model herbicide diuron in microcosms, quantified PICT, and determined the related metabolic fingerprint of periphyton by GC–MS-based untargeted metabolomics. Further, we explored the autotrophic community based on pigment composition and functional parameters including photosynthesis and gross primary production. Chronic diuron exposure resulted in a shift in pigment composition, higher community tolerance and an individual metabolic fingerprint in the contaminated communities. Opposing responses of selected metabolites during a short-term exposure indicated differences in diuron pre-adaptation in the different communities. Metabolites (threonic acid and two sugar acid lactones) were found to be related to tolerance development, suggesting that ascorbate metabolism was induced in contaminated communities. Despite these compensating mechanism, contaminated communities were compromised in production-to-respiration ratio and biomass. A ranking of sensitivity thresholds of different biological endpoints revealed that metabolites were less sensitive than photosynthetic parameters, which reflects the mode-of-action of the herbicide. In conclusion, we could demonstrate that community metabolomics is able to unravel complex biochemical changes and allows mechanistic insights into community tolerance. Moreover, we were able to show that induced community tolerance was insufficient to safeguard functions like primary production.
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hal-03752193 , version 1 (16-08-2022)

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Stefan Lips, Floriane Larras, Mechthild Schmitt-Jansen. Community metabolomics provides insights into mechanisms of pollution-induced community tolerance of periphyton. Science of the Total Environment, 2022, 824, pp.153777. ⟨10.1016/j.scitotenv.2022.153777⟩. ⟨hal-03752193⟩

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