Effects of municipal wastewater effluents on the digestive gland microbiome of wild freshwater mussels (Lasmigona costata) Academic Article uri icon

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  • Gut microbial communities are vital for maintaining host health, and are sensitive to diet, environment, and chemical exposures. Wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) release effluents containing antimicrobials, pharmaceuticals, and other contaminants that may negatively affect the gut microbiome of downstream organisms. This study investigated changes in the diversity and composition of the digestive gland microbiome of flutedshell mussels (Lasmigona costata) from upstream and downstream of two large (service >100,000) WWTPs. Mussel digestive gland microbiome was analyzed following the extraction, PCR amplification, and sequencing of bacterial DNA using the V3-V4 hypervariable regions of the 16 S rRNA gene. Bacterial alpha diversity decreased at sites downstream of the second WWTP and these sites were dissimilar in beta diversity from sites upstream and downstream of the first upstream WWTP. The microbiomes of mussels collected downstream of the first WWTP had increased relative abundances of Actinobacteria, Bacteroidetes, and Firmicutes, with a decrease in Cyanobacteria, compared to upstream mussels. Meanwhile, those collected downstream of the second WWTP increased in Proteobacteria and decreased in Actinobacteria, Bacteroidetes, and Tenericutes. Increased Proteobacteria has been linked to adverse effects in mammals, but their functions in mussels is currently unknown. Finally, effluent-derived bacteria were found in the microbiome of mussels downstream of both WWTPs but not in those from upstream. Overall, results show that the digestive gland microbiome of mussels collected upstream and downstream of WWTPs differed, which has implications for altered host health and the transport of WWTP-derived bacteria through aquatic ecosystems.


  • Millar, Elise N
  • Kidd, Karen A
  • Surette, Michael
  • Bennett, C James
  • Salerno, Joseph
  • Gillis, Patricia L

publication date

  • August 2022