Hyporheic sediments are influenced by physical, biological, and chemical processes due to the interactions with river water and has been shown to play an important role in the environmental fate of pesticides. Therefore, this study evaluated the bacterial degradation potential of MCPA, metolachlor and propiconazole in hyporheic sediments sampled along a 20 km long stretch of an agriculturally impacted river dominated primarily by water losing conditions. Water physicochemical parameters in the river and nearby groundwater wells were assessed along with pesticide sorption to sediments and bacterial community composition. Degradation and mineralisation batch experiments were set up from six locations (five water losing, one water gaining) using environmentally relevant concentrations of pesticides (10 μg kg−1). Highly variable DT50 values from 11 to 44 days for MCPA, 11–27 days for metolachlor (MTC) and 60–147 days for propiconazole were calculated based on ~140 day studies. Degradation of MTC led to accumulation of the transformation products MOA and MESA in batch experiments. Noteworthy, MESA was detected in the groundwater wells adjacent to the part of the river impacted by losing conditions suggesting that degradation processes in hyporheic sediments may lead to the formation of transformation products (TP) leaching towards groundwater. Further, from propiconazole was identified a persistent transformation product being different from 1,2,4-triazole. Specific calculated DT50 values could not the linked to bacterial diversity. However, generally all sediment samples were characterised by high bacterial diversity, where approximately 80% of the relative sequence abundances were < 1%, which may increase the likelihood of finding contaminant-degrading genes, thereby explaining the general high contaminant-degrading activity. The studied sediments revealed a high potential to degrade pesticides despite only being exposed to low diffuse pollutant concentrations that is similar to calculated DT50 values in agricultural soils.
- Bacterial diversity
- Ecosystem services
- Hyporheic sediments
- Transformation products
- Programme Area 2: Water Resources