Using the Tea Bag Index to unravel how interactions between an antibiotic (Trimethoprim) and endocrine disruptor (17a-estradiol) affect aquatic microbial activity.

William Hunter, Ashley Williamson, Judith Maria Sarneel

Research output: Working paperDiscussion paper

Abstract

The constant release of complex mixture of pharmaceuticals, including antimicrobials and endocrine disruptors, into the aquatic environment. These have the potential to affect aquatic microbial metabolism and alter biogeochemical cycling of carbon and nutrients. Here we advance the Tea Bag Index (TBI) for decomposition by using it in a series of contaminant exposure experiments to test how interactions between an antibiotic (trimethoprim) and endocrine disruptor (17a-estradiol) affects microbial activity in an aquatic system. The TBI is a citizen science tool used to test microbial activity by measuring the differential degradation of green and rooibos tea as proxies for labile and recalcitrant organic matter decomposition. Exposure to trimethoprim and 17a-estradiol had significant independent negative effects upon decomposition of labile organic matter (green tea), suggesting additive effects upon microbial activity. Exposure to 17a-estradiol alone negatively affected the degradation of more recalcitrant organic matter (rooibos tea). Consequently, trimethoprim and 17a-estradiol stabilized labile organic matter against microbial degradation and restricted degradation rates. We propose that the method outlined could provide a powerful tool for testing the impacts of multiple interacting pollutants upon microbial activity, at a range of scales, across aquatic systems and over biogeochemically relevant time scales.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherBiorXiv
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 30 Oct 2019

Keywords

  • Tea Bag Index
  • Microbial Activity
  • Antibiotic
  • Endocrine Disruptor
  • Aquatic
  • Organic Matter

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