Changes in microbial communities during seawater pre-treatment within a desalination plant

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ABSTRACT: We analysed prokaryotic and eukaryotic communities across the seawater pre-treatment system of Penneshaw (Kangaroo Island, South Australia) desalination plant, using 16S and 18S rRNA gene sequencing. The richness of operational taxonomic units increased downstream of the pre-treatment system (reverse osmosis feedwater) compared to raw seawater for Archaea, while it decreased for bacteria and protists. Overall, the reverse osmosis feedwater was found to be enriched in ammonia-oxidising bacteria and Archaea compared to raw seawater, and also contained greater proportions of taxa typically observed in aquatic biofilms and/or within other water treatment systems. Although the microbial load was reduced by the pre-treatment system, the increase in proportion of biofilm-associated microbes suggests the presence of active microbial communities within multimedia filters and other parts of the pre-treatment system that might increase biofouling risks.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-68
Number of pages6
JournalAquatic Microbial Ecology
Volume 86
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • 16S rDNA
  • 18S rDNA
  • Ammonium oxidation
  • Desalination


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