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Ecological significance of the induced tolerance of microbial communities in fluvial biofilms to anthropogenic contaminations

Abstract : Changes in structure and diversity of biological communities within ecosystems subjected to disturbances are generally synonymous of the scarcity, loss and/or the emergence of new tolerant species or by the proliferation of other species already present but at low density. This leads to a decrease in the overall sensitivity of the community toward the substance(s) responsible for this change of community structure and diversity. The evaluation (and if possible the quantification) of tolerance towards a toxicant may therefore enable us to reveal a posteriori the exposure of a biological community to this toxicant (its exposure history), and demonstrate the specific link between pressure and impact on the biotic compartment of an ecosystem and, more generally, on the ecosystem. Despite numerous studies in this area, there are still many gaps in scientific understanding of the pollution induced-tolerance. The biological model that we used is the lotic biofilm (or periphyton) whose biological and ecological characteristics make it a very interesting tool for study. This work has shown firstly that the integration of the acquired tolerance concept as a complementary tool in the environmental assessment systems would allow more ecological relevance and ecotoxicological specificity to the current set of used bio-indicators. Furthermore, the PICT is also a conceptual approach at the community level, which confirms the interest to address ecotoxicology from the viewpoint of the ecologist that is more holistic than the toxicologist one. Indeed, measures of pollution-induced tolerance, by taking into account the functional diversity of biofilms, and the associated taxonomic analysis, allowed to have a better understanding of resistance and resilience of the ecosystem submitted to chemical perturbations. Our works enabled us to tackle the concept of ecological thresholds of resistance and resilience, and to highlight the fact that enhanced tolerance to a given stress, could result in the displacement of communities from an initial state to an « alternative » stable state, even after the stress removal. These ecological thresholds and the alternative stable state mean that the disappearance of the most sensitive species (as a process explaining the PICT) does not affect the functions of the community until reaching a threshold of resistance. Thus the PICT could correspond to a reduction in diversity or changes in species composition, without having a negative effect on the functioning of the community. However, the ability of communities to be tolerant toward disturbance can have negative consequences on the resilience and resistance of ecosystems. Consequently, we addressed in our work the concept of "negative co-tolerance between species" and costs of tolerance.
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Ahmed Tlili. Ecological significance of the induced tolerance of microbial communities in fluvial biofilms to anthropogenic contaminations. Agricultural sciences. Université Claude Bernard - Lyon I, 2010. English. ⟨NNT : 2010LYO10293⟩. ⟨tel-00847372⟩

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