Linking denitrification and pesticide transformation potentials with community ecology and groundwater discharge in hyporheic sediments in a lowland stream

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Abstract

Contamination of rivers by nitrate and pesticides poses a risk for aquatic ecosystems in lowland catchments that are often intensively used for agriculture. Here, the hyporheic zone, the streambed underneath the stream, plays a vital role due to its efficient self-purification capacity. The present study aims to evaluate the denitrification and transformation potential of 14 pesticides and three transformation products in the hyporheic sediment from a lowland stream with a high N load and by comparing an agricultural straightened section to a natural meandering part of the stream influenced by different groundwater discharges. Batch experiments were set up to evaluate the denitrification and pesticide transformation potentials in hyporheic sediment from two depths (5–15 cm (a) and 15–25 cm (b)).

Our results revealed that (i) differences between the agricultural and natural sections of the river did not influence pollutant attenuation, (ii) both the nitrate and pesticide attenuation processes were more rapid in the upper "a" layer compared to the "b" layer due to higher microbial abundance, (iii) high groundwater discharge reduced the denitrification potential while pesticide transformation was unaffected, (iv) denitrification correlated with denitrifier abundance (nirK) in the "b" layer, while this correlation was not seen in the "a" layer, and (v) a microbial community with low diversity can explain limited transformation for the majority of tested pesticides. Overall, our results suggest that high groundwater discharge zones with reduced residence time in the hyporheic zone can be an important source of pesticides and nitrate to surface water.
Original languageEnglish
Article number120174
Number of pages19
JournalWater Research
Volume242
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Aug 2023

Programme Area

  • Programme Area 2: Water Resources
  • Programme Area 5: Nature and Climate

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