Pharmaceuticals and personal care products, including antimicrobials, can be found at trace levels in treated wastewater effluent. Impacts of chemical contaminants on coastal aquatic microbial community structure and pathogen abundance are unknown despite the potential for selection through antimicrobial resistance. In particular, Vibrio, a marine bacterial genus that includes several human pathogens, displays resistance to the ubiquitous antimicrobial compound triclosan. Here we demonstrated through use of natural seawater microcosms that triclosan (at a concentration of ∼5 ppm) can induce a significant Vibrio growth response (68-1,700 fold increases) in comparison with no treatment controls for three distinct coastal ecosystems: Looe Key Reef (Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary), Doctors Arm Canal (Big Pine Key, FL), and Clam Bank Landing (North Inlet Estuary, Georgetown, SC). Additionally, microbial community analysis by 16 S rRNA gene sequencing for Looe Key Reef showed distinct changes in microbial community structure with exposure to 5 ppm triclosan, with increases observed in the relative abundance of Vibrionaceae (17-fold), Pseudoalteromonadaceae (65-fold), Alteromonadaceae (108-fold), Colwelliaceae (430-fold), and Oceanospirillaceae (1,494-fold). While the triclosan doses tested were above concentrations typically observed in coastal surface waters, results identify bacterial families that are potentially resistant to triclosan and/or adapted to use triclosan as a carbon source. The results further suggest the potential for selection of Vibrio in coastal environments, especially sediments, where triclosan may accumulate at high levels.
Lydon, K. A., Glinski, D. A., Westrich, J. R., Henderson, W. M., & Lipp, E. K. (2017). Effects of triclosan on bacterial community composition and Vibrio populations in natural seawater microcosms. Elementa, 5. https://doi.org/10.1525/elementa.141