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The ISME Journal
Vol. 8, 2014; Page: 1932 - 1944

Elevated nitrate enriches microbial functional genes for potential bioremediation of complexly contaminated sediments

Meiying Xu, Qin Zhang, Chunyu Xia, Yuming Zhong, Guoping Sun, Jun Guo, Tong Yuan, Jizhong Zhou and Zhili He



Abstract

Nitrate is an important nutrient and electron acceptor for microorganisms, having a key role in nitrogen (N) cycling and electron transfer in anoxic sediments. High-nitrate inputs into sediments could have a significant effect on N cycling and its associated microbial processes. However, few studies have been focused on the effect of nitrate addition on the functional diversity, composition, structure and dynamics of sediment microbial communities in contaminated aquatic ecosystems with persistent organic pollutants (POPs). Here we analyzed sediment microbial communities from a field-scale in situ bioremediation site, a creek in Pearl River Delta containing a variety of contaminants including polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), before and after nitrate injection using a comprehensive functional gene array (GeoChip 4.0). Our results showed that the sediment microbial community functional composition and structure were markedly altered, and that functional genes involved in N-, carbon (C)-, sulfur (S)-and phosphorus (P)- cycling processes were highly enriched after nitrate injection, especially those microorganisms with diverse metabolic capabilities, leading to potential in situ bioremediation of the contaminated sediment, such as PBDE and PAH reduction/degradation. This study provides new insights into our understanding of sediment microbial community responses to nitrate addition, suggesting that indigenous microorganisms could be successfully stimulated for in situ bioremediation of POPs in contaminated sediments with nitrate addition.

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