Pharmaceuticals are consumed in high amounts and can enter as emerging organic compounds in surface waters as they are only partially retained in wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs). Receiving pharmaceuticals may burden the aquatic environment, as they are designed to be bioactive even at low concentrations. Sediment biofilm populations were analyzed in river sediments due to the exposure of an inflow of WWTP effluents. Illumina MiSeq 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing was performed of 108 sediment samples, which were taken from multiple cores within three sampling locations in the Panke River, with one sampling site located downstream of the inflow. Sequencing data were processed to infer microbial community structure in samples concerning the environmental variables, such as micropollutants and physicochemical parameters measured for each core. More than 25 different micropollutants were measured in pore water samples, in which bezafibrate, clofibric acid, carbamazepine, and diclofenac were detected at high concentrations. Bacterial 16S rRNA gene amplicons revealed Nitrospirae
, and Ignavibacteriae
as the most abundant groups in the samples. Differences in microbial community composition were observed with respect to micropollutants. However, our findings revealed that the composition of the microbial community was not only governed by the effluent. The significant changes in the alpha- and beta-diversity were explained by phenobarbital and SO42−
, which did not originate from the WWTP indicating that more unobserved factors are also likely to play a role in affecting the biofilm community’s composition.
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