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The presence of antibiotics such as erythromycin, even in trace amounts, has long been acknowledged for negatively impacting ecosystems in freshwater environments. Although many studies have focused on the impact of antibiotic pollution at a macroecological level, the impact of erythromycin on microecosystems, such as freshwater biofilms, is still not fully understood. This knowledge gap may be attributed to the lack of robust multispecies biofilm models for fundamental investigations. Here, we used a lab-cultured multispecies biofilm model to elucidate the holistic response of a microbial community to erythromycin exposure using metagenomic and metabolomic approaches. Metagenomic analyses revealed that biofilm microbial diversity did not alter following erythromycin exposure. Notably, certain predicted metabolic pathways such as cell-cell communication pathways, amino acid metabolism, and peptidoglycan biosynthesis, mainly by the phyla Actinobacteria, Alpha/Beta-proteobacteria, Bacteroidetes, and Verrucomicrobia, were found to be involved in the maintenance of homeostasis-like balance in the freshwater biofilm. Further untargeted metabolomics data highlighted changes in lipid metabolism and linoleic acid metabolism and their related molecules as a direct consequence of erythromycin exposure. Overall, the study presented a unique picture of how multispecies biofilms respond to single environmental stress exposures. Moreover, the study demonstrated the feasibility of using lab simulated multispecies biofilms for investigating their interaction and reactivity of specific bioactive compounds or pollutants at a fundamental level. Copyright © 2021 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Yang Pu, Jie Pan, Yuan Yao, Wing Yui Ngan, Yang Yang, Meng Li, Olivier Habimana. Ecotoxicological effects of erythromycin on a multispecies biofilm model, revealed by metagenomic and metabolomic approaches. Environmental pollution (Barking, Essex : 1987). 2021 May 01;276:116737

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PMID: 33618119

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