Effect of river ecological restoration on biofilm microbial community composition

Qiaoyan Lin, Raju Sekar, Rob Marrs, Yixin Zhang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


Across the world, there have been increasing attempts to restore good ecological condition to degraded rivers through habitat restoration. Microbial communities developing as biofilms play an important role in river ecosystem functioning by driving organic matter decomposition and ecosystem respiration. However, little is known about the structure and function of microbial communities in riverine systems and how these change when habitat restoration is implemented. Here, we compared the biofilm bacterial community composition using 16S rRNA genes targeted high-throughput Illumina Miseq sequencing in three river types, degraded urban rivers, urban rivers undergoing habitat restoration and forested rivers (our reference conditions). We aimed to determine: (i) the biofilm bacterial community composition affected by habitat restoration (ii) the difference in bacterial diversity in restored rivers, and (iii) correlations between environmental variables and bacterial community composition. The results showed that both water quality and biofilm bacterial community structure were changed by habitat restoration. In rivers where habitat had been restored, there was an increase in dissolved oxygen, a reduction in organic pollutants, a reduction in bacterial diversity and a related developing pattern of microbial communities, which is moving towards that of the reference conditions (forested rivers). River habitat management stimulated the processing of organic pollutants through the variation in microbial community composition, however, a big difference in bacterial structure still existed between the restored rivers and the reference forest rivers. Thus, habitat restoration is an efficient way of modifying the biofilm microbial community composition for sustainable freshwater management. It will, however, take a much longer time for degraded rivers to attain a similar ecosystem quality as the "pristine" forest sites than the seven years of restoration studied here.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1244
JournalWater (Switzerland)
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2019


  • Bacterial community
  • Biofilm
  • Habitat restoration
  • Illumina Miseq sequencing
  • River ecosystem


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