METHODS AND RESULTS: The POME final discharge, upstream (unpolluted by POME), and downstream (effluent receiving point) parts of the rivers from two sites were physicochemically characterized. The taxonomic and gene profiles were then evaluated using de novo metatranscriptomics, while the metabolites were detected using qualitative metabolomics. A similar bacterial community structure in the POME final discharge samples from both sites was recorded, but their composition varied. Redundancy analysis showed that several families, particularly Comamonadaceae and Burkholderiaceae [Pr(>F) = 0.028], were positively correlated with biochemical oxygen demand (BOD5) and chemical oxygen demand (COD). The results also showed significant enrichment of genes regulating various metabolisms in the POME-receiving rivers, with methane, carbon fixation pathway, and amino acids among the predominant metabolisms identified (FDR 4, and PPDE > 0.95). This was further validated through qualitative metabolomics, whereby amino acids were detected as the predominant metabolites.
CONCLUSIONS: The results suggest that genes regulating amino acid metabolism have significant potential for developing effective biomonitoring and bioremediation strategies in river water influenced by POME final discharge, fostering a sustainable palm oil industry.