Activated sludge microbial community responses to single-walled carbon nanotubes: community structure does matter

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The ecological effects of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) have been a worldwide research focus due to their extensive release and accumulation in environment. Activated sludge acting as an important gathering place will inevitably encounter and interact with CNTs, while the microbial responses have been rarely investigated. Herein, the activated sludges from six wastewater treatment plants were acclimated and treated with single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs) under identical conditions. Illumina high-throughput sequencing was applied to in-depth analyze microbial changes and results showed SWCNTs differently perturbed the alpha diversity of the six groups (one increase, two decrease, three no change). Furthermore, the microbial community structures were shifted, and specific bacterial performance in each group was different. Since the environmental and operational factors were identical in each group, it could be concluded that microbial responses to SWCNTs were highly depended on the original community structures.

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