Broad Dissemination of Plasmids across Groundwater-Fed Rapid Sand Filter Microbiomes

Rafael Pinilla Redondo, Asmus Kalckar Olesen, Jakob Russel, Lisbeth Elvira de Vries, Lisbeth Damkjær Christensen, Sanin Musovic, Joseph Nesme, Søren Johannes Sørensen

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Biological rapid sand filtration is a commonly employed method for the removal of organic and inorganic impurities in water which relies on the degradative properties of microorganisms for the removal of diverse contaminants, but their bioremediation capabilities vary greatly across waterworks. Bioaugmentation efforts with degradation-proficient bacteria have proven difficult due to the inability of the exogenous microbes to stably colonize the sand filters. Plasmids are extrachromosomal DNA elements that can often transfer between bacteria and facilitate the flow of genetic information across microbiomes, yet their ability to spread within rapid sand filters has remained unknown. Here, we examine the permissiveness of rapid sand filter communities toward four environmentally transmissible plasmids, RP4, RSF1010, pKJK5, and TOL (pWWO), using a dual-fluorescence bioreporter platform combined with fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS) and 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing. Our results reveal that plasmids can transfer at high frequencies and across distantly related taxa from rapid sand filter communities, emphasizing their potential suitability for introducing bioremediation determinants in the microbiomes of underperforming water purification plants. Copyright © 2021 Pinilla-Redondo et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0306821
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021


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