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Volume 260, 2020, 127619

Bioavailable metal(loid)s and physicochemical features co-mediating microbial communities at combined metal(loid) pollution sites

Jiawen Wanga, Tang Liub, Weiling Suna, Qian Chena

College of Environmental Sciences and Engineering, Peking University, Key Laboratory of Water and Sediment Sciences, Ministry of Education, Beijing, 100871, China.


Heavy metal contamination poses considerable threats to various ecosystems, yet little is known about the assembly and adaptation of microbial communities at sites with combined heavy metal(loid) pollution. Here, we examined metal(loid) pollutants and bacterial communities in three zones (Zones ?, ?, and ?) of an abandoned sewage reservoir with different usage years. The contamination level of multiple metal(loid)s was higher in Zone ? than in the other zones, and arsenic (As), zinc (Zn), selenium (Se), copper (Cu), tin (Sn), molybdenum (Mo), antimony (Sb), cadmium (Cd), lead (Pb), thallium (Tl), and nickel (Ni) were the major contaminants (pollution load index > 1). Bioavailable forms of titanium (Ti), chromium (Cr), Sn, and cobalt (Co) played essential roles in shaping the microbial structure, and physicochemical properties, especially organic matter (OM) and pH, also mediated the microbial diversity and composition in the metal(loid) contaminated zones. Metal–microbe interactions and heatmap analysis revealed that the bioavailability of metal(loid)s promoted the niche partitioning of microbial species. Metal-resistant species were abundant in Zone ? that had the highest metal-contaminated level, whereas metal-sensitive species prevailed in Zone ? that had the lowest pollution level. The bioavailable metal(loid)s rather than physicochemical and spatial variables explained a larger portion of the variance in the microbial community, and the homogeneous selection was the dominant ecological process driving the assembly of the microbial community. Overall, our study highlighted the importance of metal(loid) bioavailability in shaping microbial structure, future bioremediation, and environmental management of metal(loid) contaminated sites.

Keywords: Metal(loid) contamination; metal(loid) bioavailability; Metal-microbe interaction; Ecological process.

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