Diatom DNA metabarcoding to assess the effect of natural radioactivity in mineral springs on ASV of benthic diatom communities


Baker L.A., Beauger A., Kolovi S., Voldoire O., Allain E., Breton V., Chardon P., Miallier D., Bailly C., Montavon G., Bouchez A., Rimet F., Chardon C., Vasselon V., Ector L., Wetzel C.E., Biron D.G.


Science of the Total Environment, vol. 873, art. no. 162270, 2023


Little is still known about the low dose effects of radiation on the microbial communities in the environment. Mineral springs are ecosystems than can be affected by natural radioactivity. These extreme environments are, therefore, observatories for studying the influence of chronic radioactivity on the natural biota. In these ecosystems we find diatoms, unicellular microalgae, playing an essential role in the food chain. The present study aimed to investigate, using DNA metabarcoding, the effect of natural radioactivity in two environmental compartments (i.e. spring sediments and water) on the genetic richness, diversity and structure of diatom communities in 16 mineral springs in the Massif Central, France. Diatom biofilms were collected during October 2019, and a 312 bp region of the chloroplast gene rbcL (coding for the Ribulose Bisphosphate Carboxylase) used as a barcode for taxonomic assignation. A total of 565 amplicon sequence variants (ASV) were found. The dominant ASV were associated with Navicula sanctamargaritae, Gedaniella sp., Planothidium frequentissimum, Navicula veneta, Diploneis vacillans, Amphora copulata, Pinnularia brebissonii, Halamphora coffeaeformis, Gomphonema saprophilum, and Nitzschia vitrea, but some of the ASVs could not be assigned at the species level. Pearson correlation failed to show a correlation between ASV’ richness and radioactivity parameters. Non-parametric MANOVA analysis based on ASVs occurrence or abundances revealed that geographical location was the main factor influencing ASVs distribution. Interestingly, 238U was the second factor that explained diatom ASV structure. Among the ASVs in the mineral springs monitored, ASV associated with one of the genetic variants of Planothidium frequentissimum was well represented in the springs and with higher levels of 238U, suggesting its high tolerance to this particular radionuclide. This diatom species may therefore represent a bio-indicator of high natural levels of uranium.



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