Molecular and functional assessment of bacterial community convergence in metal-amended soils

J. A.H. Anderson, M. J. Hooper, J. C. Zak, S. B. Cox

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

16 Scopus citations

Abstract

Species diversity and the structure of microbial communities in soils are thought to be a function of the cumulative selective pressures within the local environment. Shifts in microbial community structure, as a result of metal stress, may have lasting negative effects on soil ecosystem dynamics if critical microbial community functions are compromised. Three soils in the vicinity of a copper smelter, previously contaminated with background, low and high levels of aerially deposited metals, were amended with metal-salts to determine the potential for metal contamination to shape the structural and functional diversity of microbial communities in soils. We hypothesized that the microbial communities native to the three soils would initially be unique to each site, but would converge on a microbial community with similar structure and function, as a result of metal stress. Initially, the three different sites supported microbial communities with unique structural and functional diversity, and the nonimpacted site supported inherently higher levels of microbial activity and biomass, relative to the metal-contaminated sites. Amendment of the soils with metal-salts resulted in a decrease in microbial activity and biomass, as well as shifts in microbial community structure and function at each site. Soil microbial communities from each site were also observed to be sensitive to changes in soil pH as a result of metal-salt amendment; however, the magnitude of these pH-associated effects varied between soils. Microbial communities from each site did not converge on a structurally or functionally similar community following metal-salt amendment, indicating that other factors may be equally important in shaping microbial communities in soils. Among these factors, soil physiochemical parameters like organic matter and soil pH, which can both influence the bioavailability and toxicity of metals in soils, may be critical.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10-22
Number of pages13
JournalMicrobial Ecology
Volume58
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2009

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