Hydraulic characteristics in channel confluence affect the nitrogen dynamics through altering interactions among multi-trophic microbiota

Water Res. 2023 May 15;235:119882. doi: 10.1016/j.watres.2023.119882. Epub 2023 Mar 15.


Identifying the distribution of multi-trophic microbiota under the complicated hydrodynamic characteristics of channel confluences and evaluating the microbial contributions to biogeochemical processes are vital for river regulation and ecological function protection. However, relevant studies mainly focus on bacterial community distribution in confluence, neglecting the essential role of multi-trophic microbiota in the aquatic ecosystems and biogeochemical processes. To address this knowledge gap, this study investigated the distribution of multi-trophic microbiota and the underlying assembly process under the hydraulic characteristics in the confluence and described the direct and indirect effects of multi-trophic microbiota on the nitrogen dynamics. Results revealed that, in a river confluence, eukaryotic communities were governed by deterministic processes (52.4%) and bacterial communities were determined by stochastic processes (74.3%). The response of higher trophic levels to environmental factors was intensively higher than that of lower trophic microbiota, resulting in higher trophic microbiota were significantly different between regions with varied environmental conditions (P < 0.05). Flow velocity was the driving force controlling the assembly and composition of multi-trophic microbiota and interactions among multi-trophic levels, and further made a significant difference to nitrogen dynamics. In regions with lower flow velocity, interactions among multi-trophic levels were more complex. There were intense nitrate and nitrite reduction and anammox reactions via direct impacts of protozoan and metazoan and the top-down control (protozoan and metazoan prey on heterotrophic bacteria) among multi-trophic microbiota. Results and findings reveal the ecological effect on river nitrogen removal in a river confluence under complex hydraulic conditions and provide useful information for river management.

Keywords: Confluence characteristic; Microbial food web; Multi-trophic; Nitrogen dynamics; River confluence.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacteria
  • Microbiota*
  • Nitrates
  • Nitrogen*
  • Rivers / chemistry


  • Nitrogen
  • Nitrates