Gut bacterial community structure (Porcellio scaber, Isopoda, Crustacea) as a measure of community level response to long-term and short-term metal pollution
Prokaryotes are of high importance in the assessment of environmental pollution effects. Due to fast responsiveness of bacterial communities to environmental physicochemical factors, it is difficult to compare results of bacterial community investigations on the temporal and spatial scale. To reduce the effects of variable physicochemical environmental conditions on bacterial microbiota when investigating the specific impact of contaminants on bacterial communities, we investigated the bacterial community in the gut of terrestrial isopods (Porcellio scaber, Isopoda, Crustacea) from clean and metal-polluted environments. Animals were collected from a chronically mercury-polluted site, a chronically multiple metal-(Cd, Pb, Zn) polluted site, and two reference sites. In addition, animals from an unpolluted site were laboratory exposed to 5 μg Hg/g food in order to compare the effect of acute and chronic Hg exposure. The bacterial gut microbiota was investigated by temporal temperature gradient gel electrophoresis (TTGE) and clone library construction based on polymerase chain reaction amplified 16S rRNA genes. The major bacterial representatives of the emptied gut microbiota in the animals from the chronically polluted environments seemed not affected when analyzed by TTGE. The detailed bacterial community structure investigated by 16S rRNA clone library construction, however, showed that the community from the Hg-polluted site also was affected severely (242.4 operational taxonomic units [OTU] in the polluted and 650.6 OTU in the unpolluted environment). When animals were acutely exposed to mercury, changes of bacterial community structures already were seen on TTGE profiles and no additional analysis was needed. We suggest the use of P. scaber gut bacterial community structure as a measure of effects caused by both long- and short-term exposure to pollution.