Patterns of Bacterial Diversity Along a Long-Term Mercury-Contaminated Gradient in the Paddy Soils
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- Liu, YR., Wang, JJ., Zheng, YM. et al. Microb Ecol (2014) 68: 575. doi:10.1007/s00248-014-0430-5
Mercury (Hg) pollution is usually regarded as an environmental stress in reducing microbial diversity and altering bacterial community structure. However, these results were based on relatively short-term studies, which might obscure the real response of microbial species to Hg contamination. Here, we analysed the bacterial abundance and community composition in paddy soils that have been potentially contaminated by Hg for more than 600 years. Expectedly, the soil Hg pollution significantly influenced the bacterial community structure. However, the bacterial abundance was significantly correlated with the soil organic matter content rather than the total Hg (THg) concentration. The bacterial alpha diversity increased at relatively low levels of THg and methylmercury (MeHg) and subsequently approached a plateau above 4.86 mg kg−1 THg or 18.62 ng g−1 MeHg, respectively. Contrasting with the general prediction of decreasing diversity along Hg stress, our results seem to be consistent with the intermediate disturbance hypotheses with the peak biological diversity under intermediate disturbance or stress. This result was partly supported by the inconsistent response of bacterial species to Hg stress. For instance, the relative abundance of Nitrospirae decreased, while that of Gemmatimonadetes increased significantly along the increasing soil THg and MeHg concentrations. In addition, the content of SO42−, THg, MeHg and soil depth were the four main factors influencing bacterial community structures based on the canonical correspondence analysis (CCA). Overall, our findings provide novel insight into the distribution patterns of bacterial community along the long-term Hg-contaminated gradient in paddy soils.