The extensive use of nanoparticles (NPs) in industrial processes makes their potential release into the environment an issue of concern. Ag and ZnO NPs are among the most frequently used NPs, potentially reaching concentrations of 1–4 and 64 mg/kg, respectively, in Wastewater Treatment Plants (WWTPs), with unknown effects over microbial populations. Thus, we examined, in depth, the effect of such NPs on a P. aeruginosa strain isolated from a WWTP. We evaluated the growth, ROS production and biofilm formation, in addition to the transcriptomic response in presence of Ag and ZnO NPs at concentrations potentially found in sewage sludge. The transcriptomic and phenotypic patterns of P. aeruginosa in presence of Ag NPs were, in general, similar to the control treatment, with some specific transcriptional impacts affecting processes involved in biofilm formation and iron homeostasis. The biofilms formed under Ag NPs treatment were, on average, thinner and more homogeneous. ZnO NPs also alters the biofilm formation and iron homeostasis in P. aeruginosa, however, the higher and more toxic concentrations utilized caused an increase in cell death and eDNA release. Thus, the biofilm development was characterized by EPS production, via eDNA release. The number of differentially expressed genes in presence of ZnO NPs was higher compared to Ag NPs treatment. Even though the responses of P. aeruginosa to the presence of the studied metallic NPs was at some extent similar, the higher and more toxic concentrations of ZnO NPs produced greater changes concerning cell viability and ROS production, causing disruption in biofilm development.
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