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FEMS Microbiol Ecol. 2015 Jan;91(1):1-11. doi: 10.1093/femsec/fiu007. Epub 2014 Dec 5.

Adaptation of soil microbial community structure and function to chronic metal contamination at an abandoned Pb-Zn mine.

Author information

1
NEIKER-Tecnalia, Department of Ecology and Natural Resources, Soil Microbial Ecology Group, c/ Berreaga 1, E-48160 Derio, Spain lepelde@neiker.net.
2
NEIKER-Tecnalia, Department of Ecology and Natural Resources, Soil Microbial Ecology Group, c/ Berreaga 1, E-48160 Derio, Spain.
3
Department of Ecogenomics and Systems Biology, University of Vienna, Althanstrasse 14, 1090 Vienna, Austria.

Abstract

Toxicity of metals released from mine tailings may cause severe damage to ecosystems. A diversity of microorganisms, however, have successfully adapted to such sites. In this study, our objective was to advance the understanding of the indigenous microbial communities of mining-impacted soils. To this end, a metatranscriptomic approach was used to study a heavily metal-contaminated site along a metal concentration gradient (up to 3220 000 and 97 000 mg kg(-1) of Cd, Pb and Zn, respectively) resulting from previous mining. Metal concentration, soil pH and amount of clay were the most important factors determining the structure of soil microbial communities. Interestingly, evenness of the microbial communities, but not its richness, increased with contamination level. Taxa with high metabolic plasticity like Ktedonobacteria and Chloroflexi were found with higher relative abundance in more contaminated samples. However, several taxa belonging to the phyla Actinobacteria and Acidobacteria followed opposite trends in relation to metal pollution. Besides, functional transcripts related to transposition or transfer of genetic material and membrane transport, potentially involved in metal resistance mechanisms, had a higher expression in more contaminated samples. Our results provide an insight into microbial communities in long-term metal-contaminated environments and how they contrast to nearby sites with lower contamination.

KEYWORDS:

evenness; metal resistance; metatranscriptomics; mine soil

PMID:
25764532
DOI:
10.1093/femsec/fiu007
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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