Profiling of Microbial Communities in the Sediments of Jinsha River Watershed Exposed to Different Levels of Impacts by the Vanadium Industry, Panzhihua, China.

Affiliation

He Y(1), Huang D(1), Li S(1), Shi L(1)(2), Sun W(3), Sanford RA(4), Fan H(5), Wang M(5), Li B(3), Li Y(6), Tang X(7), Dong Y(8)(9).
Author information:
(1)School of Environmental Studies, China University of Geosciences
(Wuhan), Wuhan, China.
(2)State Key Laboratory of Biogeology and Environmental Geology, China University of Geosciences
(Wuhan), Wuhan, China.
(3)Institute of Eco-environmental and Soil Sciences, Guangdong Academy of Sciences, Guangzhou, China.
(4)Department of Geology, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, USA.
(5)Changjiang Water Resources Protection Institute, Wuhan, China.
(6)School of Resources and Environmental Engineering, Wuhan University of Technology, Wuhan, China.
(7)China Three Gorges Projects Development Co., Ltd, Beijing, China.
(8)School of Environmental Studies, China University of Geosciences
(Wuhan), Wuhan, China. [Email]
(9)State Key Laboratory of Biogeology and Environmental Geology, China University of Geosciences
(Wuhan), Wuhan, China. [Email]

Abstract

The mining, smelting, manufacturing, and disposal of vanadium (V) and associated products have caused serious environmental problems. Although the microbial ecology in V-contaminated soils has been intensively studied, the impacted watershed ecosystems have not been systematically investigated. In this study, geochemistry and microbial structure were analyzed along ~30 km of the Jinsha River and its two tributaries across the industrial areas in Panzhihua, one of the primary V mining and production cities in China. Geochemical analyses showed different levels of contamination by metals and metalloids in the sediments, with high degrees of contamination observed in one of the tributaries close to the industrial park. Analyses of the V4 hypervariable region of 16S rRNA genes of the microbial communities in the sediments showed significant decrease in microbial diversity and microbial structure in response to the environmental gradient (e.g., heavy metals, total sulfur, and total nitrogen). Strong association of the taxa (e.g., Thauera, Algoriphagus, Denitromonas, and Fontibacter species) with the metals suggested selection for these potential metal-resistant and/or metabolizing populations. Further co-occurrence network analysis showed that many identified potential metal-mediating species were among the keystone taxa that were closely associated in the same module, suggesting their strong inter-species interactions but relative independence from other microorganisms in the hydrodynamic ecosystems. This study provided new insight into the microbe-environment interactions in watershed ecosystems differently impacted by the V industries. Some of the phylotypes identified in the highly contaminated samples exhibited potential for bioremediation of toxic metals (e.g., V and Cr).