Surface Water Microbial Community Response to the Biocide 2,2-Dibromo-3-Nitrilopropionamide, Used in Unconventional Oil and Gas Extraction.
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.1128/aem.01336-19
Production of unconventional oil and gas continues to rise, but the effects of high-density hydraulic fracturing (HF) activity near aquatic ecosystems are not fully understood. A commonly used biocide in HF, 2,2-dibromo-3-nitrilopropionamide (DBNPA), was studied in microcosms of HF-impacted (HF+) versus HF-unimpacted (HF-) surface water streams to (i) compare the microbial community response, (ii) investigate DBNPA degradation products based on past HF exposure, and (iii) compare the microbial community response differences and similarities between the HF biocides DBNPA and glutaraldehyde. The microbial community responded to DBNPA differently in HF-impacted versus HF-unimpacted microcosms in terms of the number of 16S rRNA gene copies quantified, alpha and beta diversity, and differential abundance analyses of microbial community composition through time. The differences in microbial community changes affected degradation dynamics. HF-impacted microbial communities were more sensitive to DBNPA, causing the biocide and by-products of the degradation to persist for longer than in HF-unimpacted microcosms. A total of 17 DBNPA by-products were detected, many of them not widely known as DBNPA by-products. Many of the brominated by-products detected that are believed to be uncharacterized may pose environmental and health impacts. Similar taxa were able to tolerate glutaraldehyde and DBNPA; however, DBNPA was not as effective for microbial control, as indicated by a smaller overall decrease of 16S rRNA gene copies/ml after exposure to the biocide, and a more diverse set of taxa was able to tolerate it. These findings suggest that past HF activity in streams can affect the microbial community response to environmental perturbation such as that caused by the biocide DBNPA.IMPORTANCE Unconventional oil and gas activity can affect pH, total organic carbon, and microbial communities in surface water, altering their ability to respond to new environmental and/or anthropogenic perturbations. These findings demonstrate that 2,2-dibromo-3-nitrilopropionamide (DBNPA), a common hydraulic fracturing (HF) biocide, affects microbial communities differently as a consequence of past HF exposure, persisting longer in HF-impacted (HF+) waters. These findings also demonstrate that DBNPA has low efficacy in environmental microbial communities regardless of HF impact. These findings are of interest, as understanding microbial responses is key for formulating remediation strategies in unconventional oil and gas (UOG)-impacted environments. Moreover, some DBNPA degradation by-products are even more toxic and recalcitrant than DBNPA itself, and this work identifies novel brominated degradation by-products formed.