The effect of triclosan on microbial communities that are found in soil and sediments is well documented. However, little is known regarding the possible effects of triclosan on microbial communities that are present in the column of freshwater streams as the antimicrobial is released from sediments or from water sewage outflow. We show that a concentration of triclosan as low as 1 ng/L decreases richness and evenness in freshwater microbial communities growing in the water column while using controlled experimental microcosms. Crucially, the decrease in evenness that was observed in the microbial communities was due to the selection of bacteria commonly associated with human activity, such as Acinetobacter
, and Rhodobacter
, as opposed to an increase in Cyanobacteria, as previously suggested. Finally, our results demonstrate that higher concentrations of triclosan comparable to heavily polluted environments can also impact the overall phylogenetic structure and community composition of microbial communities. Understanding the impact of triclosan on these microbial populations is crucial from a public health perspective as human populations are more often exposed to microbial communities that are present in the water column via recreative use.
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