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Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety
Vol. 67, No. xx, 2007; Pages: 75–81

The influence of soil heavy metals pollution on soil microbial biomass, enzyme activity, and community composition near a copper smelter*

YuanPeng Wang, JiYan Shi, Hui Wang, Qi Lin, XinCai Chen, YingXu Chen*

Life Science College, Northeast Agriculture University, Harbin 150030, China.


The environmental risk of heavy metal pollution is pronounced in soils adjacent to large industrial complexes. It is important to investigate the functioning of soil microorganisms in ecosystems exposed to long-term contamination by heavy metals. We studied the potential effects of heavy metals on microbial biomass, activity, and community composition in soil near a copper smelter in China. The results showed that microbial biomass C was negatively affected by the elevated metal levels and was closely correlated with heavy metal stress. Enzyme activity was greatly depressed by conditions in the heavy metal-contaminated sites. Good correlation was observed between enzyme activity and the distance from the smelter. Elevated metal loadings resulted in changes in the activity of the soil microbe, as indicated by changes in their metabolic profiles from correlation analysis. Significant decrease of soil phosphatase activities was found in the soils 200m away from the smelter. Polymerase chain reaction–denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (PCR–DGGE) analysis demonstrated that heavy metals pollution had a significant impact on bacterial and actinomycetic community structure. There were negative correlations between soil microbial biomass, phosphatase activity, and NH4NO3 extractable heavy metals. The soil microorganism activity and community composition could be predicted significantly using the availability of Cu and Zn. By combining different monitoring approaches from different viewpoints, the set of methods applied in this study were sensitive to site differences and contributed to a better understanding of heavy metals effects on the structure, size and activity of microbial communities in soils. The data presented demonstrate the role of heavy metals pollution in understanding the heavy metal toxicity to soil microorganism near a copper smelter in China.

Keywords:Availability, Community composition, Heavy metals, Soil microorganism,denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis,microbes and metals.

Corresponding author: Fax +86571 869 71898

E-mail: yxchen@zju.edu.cn


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