Microbial community evolution during simulated managed aquifer recharge in response to different biodegradable dissolved organic carbon (BDOC) concentrations

Dong Li, Mazahirali Alidina, Mohamed Ouf, Jonathan O. Sharp, Pascal Saikaly, Jorg Drewes

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84 Scopus citations


This study investigates the evolution of the microbial community in laboratory-scale soil columns simulating the infiltration zone of managed aquifer recharge (MAR) systems and analogous natural aquifer sediment ecosystems. Parallel systems were supplemented with either moderate (1.1 mg/L) or low (0.5 mg/L) biodegradable dissolved organic carbon (BDOC) for a period of six months during which time, spatial (1 cm, 30 cm, 60 cm, 90 cm, and 120 cm) and temporal (monthly) analyses of sediment-associated microbial community structure were analyzed. Total microbial biomass associated with sediments was positively correlated with BDOC concentration where a significant decline in BDOC was observed along the column length. Analysis of 16S rRNA genes indicated dominance by Bacteria with Archaea comprising less than 1 percent of the total community. Proteobacteria was found to be the major phylum in samples from all column depths with contributions from Betaproteobacteria, Alphaproteobacteria and Gammaproteobacteria. Microbial community structure at all the phylum, class and genus levels differed significantly at 1 cm between columns receiving moderate and low BDOC concentrations; in contrast strong similarities were observed both between parallel column systems and across samples from 30 to 120 cm depths. Samples from 1 cm depth of the low BDOC columns exhibited higher microbial diversity (expressed as Shannon Index) than those at 1 cm of moderate BDOC columns, and both increased from 5.4 to 5.9 at 1 cm depth to 6.7-8.3 at 30-120 cm depths. The microbial community structure reached steady state after 3-4 months since the initiation of the experiment, which also resulted in an improved DOC removal during the same time period. This study suggested that BDOC could significantly influence microbial community structure regarding both composition and diversity of artificial MAR systems and analogous natural aquifer sediment ecosystems. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2421-2430
Number of pages10
JournalWater Research
Issue number7
StatePublished - May 2013

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledgements: This research was supported by discretionary investigator funds (J.D., P.S.) at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST). The material presented is also based in part upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. CBET-1055396 (J.S.) and Cooperative Agreement EEC-1028968 (J.D. and J.S.). The authors are thankful for technical assistance provided by Shahjahan Ali and Mohammed S Alarawi at the Biosciences Core Laboratory, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Pollution
  • Ecological Modeling
  • Waste Management and Disposal


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