Key Laboratory of Geographic Information Science (Ministry of Education), School of Geographical Sciences, East China Normal University, 500 Dongchuan Road, Shanghai 200241, China; State Key Laboratory of Estuarine and Coastal Research, East China Normal University, 3663 North Zhongshan Road, Shanghai 200062, China. Electronic address: [Email]
In the contaminated coastal sediments, variations of microbial community can reflect the impact of anthropogenic activities. The identification, evaluation and monitoring of the potential bio-indicator species and biomarker communities are vital for the ecological studies in sedimentary environments. Based on the high-throughput sequencing, the microbial communities were characterized in the sediments along the Yangtze Estuary and its coastal area. The results showed that the structure and composition of microbial communities varied greatly among different sampling sites at the phyla level, especially for Euryarchaeota. Metabolic pathway and quantitative PCR analyses suggested that the methane metabolism-related microbes were mainly included in the phylum of Euryarchaeota. Elevated abundances of methane metabolism-related microbes were found at Shidongkou (SDK) and Wusongkou (WSK), where microbes were seriously impacted by the wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) effluent and urban runoff. By comparing with the Euryarchaeota in WWTP sludge, the relatively high abundance of Euryarchaeota in sediment at SDK may be mainly related to the massive growth of indigenous species, promoted by anthropogenic nutrients. Moreover, redundancy discriminant analysis and correlation analysis revealed that methanogens and methanotrophs mainly respond to the nutrients and metals, such as total organic carbon, total phosphorus, total nitrogen, SO42-, NO2-, NH4+, Cr, and Zn, which were often related to human activities. Network analyses showed that the species related to the metabolism of methane may play a vital role in the interassociation among different microbial communities. Therefore, methanogens, methanotrophs and their community compositions could be considered as potential bio-indicator species and biomarker communities, indicating anthropogenic activities in the sediments along the Yangtze Estuary and its coastal area.