The microbiomic and environmental analysis of sediments in the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin (Sousa chinensis) habitat in the Northern Beibu Gulf, China

  • Bin Gong
  • Hu Huang
  • Chongwei Peng
  • Jingzhen Wang
  • Jixian Ma
  • Xiangxu Liu
  • Songying OuyangEmail author
  • Shiang-Lin HuangEmail author
  • Haiping WuEmail author
Research Article


The northern Beibu Gulf is one of the major habitats for the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin (Sousa chinensis) in China. In this habitat, the core distribution zone of humpback dolphins was confined to the Sanniang Bay (SNB) and Dafengjiang River Estuary (DRE) areas. In our present research, the sediments of 14 sampling sites across the SNB and DRE waters were collected and further conducted for microbiomic and environmental analysis to explore the ecosystem characteristics of major humpback dolphin habitats in Northern Beibu Gulf. The environmental condition includes ammonia nitrogen (NH4+-N), nitrate nitrogen (NO3-N), dissolved reactive phosphorus (DRP), sulfur content in the form of sulfuric acid (SO42−-S), Fe, and heavy metals (including Cu, Zn, Cd, Pb, and As). The composition of the bacterial community was characterized by 16S ribosomal DNA analysis of the V3–V4 regions using the Illumina-based sequencing platform. The environmental characteristic of the nutrient elements and heavy metals indicated that SNB suffered more anthropogenic impact than DRE. The comparably higher concentration of NH4+-N, NO3-N, DRP, Pb, and Cd in the SNB region was detected. The comparably higher nutrients in the SNB may have resulted in higher biomass and lower dissolved oxygen (DO) profile, which was further proved by Landsat thermal image data. The microbiome analysis showed that the DRE region was oligotrophic and SNB reflected an anaerobic environment in the sediments. Environmental factors rather than the spatial distance determined the similarity of bacterial community among different sites. Ecological associations between environmental, oceanographic, and bacterial characteristics were illustrated, which exhibited strong mutual associations. Our findings presented a feasibility that integrates empirical and remote sensing data to distinguish ecological features and evaluate ecosystem healthiness for the humpback dolphin habitats.


Chinese white dolphins Northern Beibu Gulf Microbiome Environmental analysis 



This work is supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31560727, 31570875, 41776174); the Guangxi Natural Science Foundation (2014GXNSFBA118135); the Foundation of Guangxi Key Laboratory of Marine Disaster in the Beibu Gulf, Qinzhou University (No. 2017TS03); and the Foundation of the Key Laboratory of Coastal Science and Engineering, Beibu Gulf, Guangxi (No. 2016ZYB07).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Guangxi Key Laboratory of Marine Disaster in the Beibu GulfBeibu Gulf UniversityQinzhouChina
  2. 2.Guangxi Key Laboratory of Beibu Gulf Marine Biodiversity ConservationBeibu Gulf UniversityQinzhouChina
  3. 3.The Key Laboratory of Innate Immune Biology of Fujian Province, Biomedical Research Center of South China, Key Laboratory of OptoElectronic Science and Technology for Medicine of Ministry of Education, College of Life SciencesFujian Normal UniversityFuzhouChina
  4. 4.Marine Environment Monitoring CenterQinzhou Oceanic AdministrationQinzhouChina
  5. 5.Guanxi Beibu Gulf Marine Research CenterGuanxi Academy of SciencesNanningChina
  6. 6.College of ScienceShantou UniversityShantouChina
  7. 7.The Key Laboratory of Coastal Science and EngineeringQinzhouChina

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