Pharmaceutical compounds such as the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug ibuprofen and the artificial estrogen 17α-ethynylestradiol (EE2) are contaminants of emerging concern in freshwater systems. Globally, human pharmaceutical use is growing by around ~3 % per year, yet we know little about how interactions between different pharmaceuticals may affect aquatic ecosystems. Here we test how interactions between ibuprofen and EE2 affect the growth and respiration of streambed biofilms. We used contaminant exposure experiments to quantify how these compounds affected biofilm growth (biomass), respiration, net primary production (NPP) and gross primary production (GPP), both individually and in combination. We found no effects of either ibuprofen or EE2 on biofilm biomass (using ash free dry mass as a proxy) or gross primary production. Ibuprofen significantly reduced biofilm respiration and altered NPP. Concomitant exposure to EE2, however, counteracted the inhibitory effects of ibuprofen upon biofilm respiration. Our study, thus, demonstrates that interactions between pharmaceuticals in the environment may have complex effects upon microbial contributions to aquatic ecosystem functioning.
- Microbial metabolism
- Pharmaceuticals and personal care products