Putative Effect of Aquifer Recharge on the Abundance and Taxonomic Composition of Endemic Microbial Communities

Renee J Smith, James S Paterson, Cally A Sibley, John L Hutson, James G Mitchell

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21 Citations (Scopus)


Drought events and the overexploitation of freshwater resources have led to the increased need to manage groundwater reserves. Aquifer storage and recovery (ASR), whereby artificial water is injected into aquifers for storage, is one of the proposed methods by which freshwater supplies can be increased. Microbial clogging following injection, however, is a major issue. Here, during laboratory simulations of ASR, we used flow cytometry and bar-coded pyrosequencing to investigate changes in microbial abundance and community dynamics. Bacterial abundance ranged from 5.0 × 104 to 1.4 × 107 cells ml-1 before the addition of synthetic wastewater. Following wastewater addition, a 25-fold decrease in abundance was observed, coinciding with a 12-fold increase in viral abundance. Taxa shifted from an overrepresentation of Sphingomonadales, Sphingobacteriales, Rhodospirillales, Caulobacterales, Legionellales, Bacillales, Fusobacteriales and Verrucomicrobiales prior to the addition of synthetic wastewater to Burkholderiales, Actinomycetales, Pseudomonadales, Xanthomonadales, Rhodobacterales, Thizobiales and Thiotrichales following the addition of synthetic wastewater. Furthermore, a significant difference in overall taxonomic composition between the groundwater samples before and after the addition of synthetic wastewater was observed, with water samples exhibiting more similarity to sediment samples after wastewater was added. Collectively, these results suggest that ASR may alter the taxonomic composition of endemic microbial communities and that complete profiles of groundwater properties, including microbial community abundance and composition need to be taken into consideration when selecting aquifers for ASR practices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e0129004
JournalPloS one
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished or Issued - 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • DNA Barcoding, Taxonomic
  • Groundwater/microbiology
  • Microbial Consortia/genetics
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Waste Water/microbiology
  • Water Microbiology
  • Water Movements
  • Water Supply

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