Identifying human-induced influence on microbial community: A comparative study in the effluent-receiving areas in Hangzhou Bay

  • Yuhan Zheng
  • Zhiguo Su
  • Tianjiao Dai
  • Feifei Li
  • Bei Huang
  • Qinglin Mu
  • Chuanping FengEmail author
  • Donghui WenEmail author
Research Article
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Special Issue—China Urban Water Environment and Water Ecology


Microbial community structure is affected by both natural processes and human activities. In coastal area, anthropegenetic activity can usually lead to the discharge of the effluent from wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) to sea, and thus the water quality chronically turns worse and marine ecosystem becomes unhealthy. Microorganisms play key roles in pollutants degradation and ecological restoration; however, there are few studies about how the WWTP effluent disposal influences coastal microbial communities. In this study, sediment samples were collected from two WWTP effluent-receiving areas (abbreviated as JX and SY) in Hangzhou Bay. First, based on the high-throughput sequencing of 16S rRNA gene, microbial community structure was analyzed. Secondly, several statistical analyses were conducted to reveal the microbial community characteristics in response to the effluent disposal. Using PCoA, the significant difference of in microbial community structure was determined between JX and SY; using RDA, water COD and temperature, and sediment available phosphate and ammonia nitrogen were identified as the key environmental factors for the community difference; using LDA effect size analysis, the most distinctive microbes were found and their correlations with environmental factors were investigated; and according to detrended beta-nearest-taxon-index, the sediment microbial communities were found to follow “niche theory”. An interesting and important finding was that in SY that received more and toxic COD, many distinctive microbes were related to the groups that were capable of degrading toxic organic pollutants. This study provides a clear illustration of eco-environmental deterioration under the long-term human pressure from the view of microbial ecology.


Microbial community structure Effluent-receiving area High-throughput sequencing Costal sediments Wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) 



This study was supported by projects (Nos. 51678003 and 51678334) granted by the National Natural Science Foundation of China. The authors sincerely thank the following peoples in samples collection and seawater and sediments qualities analysis: Dr. Rui Liu, Dr. Lujun Chen, and Ms. Yaqiong Lan from Zhejiang Provincial Key Laboratory of Water Science and Technology, Department of Environmental Technology and Ecology, Yangtze Delta Region Institute of Tsinghua University; and Ms. Jiayu Chen and Mr. Pengcheng Yao from the School of Environmental Sciences and Geography, Shanghai Normal University.

Supplementary material

11783_2019_1174_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (1.6 mb)
Supporting information


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Copyright information

© Higher Education Press and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yuhan Zheng
    • 1
  • Zhiguo Su
    • 2
  • Tianjiao Dai
    • 2
  • Feifei Li
    • 1
  • Bei Huang
    • 3
  • Qinglin Mu
    • 3
  • Chuanping Feng
    • 1
    Email author
  • Donghui Wen
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.School of Water Resource and Environmental ScienceChina University of Geosciences (Beijing)BeijingChina
  2. 2.College of Environmental Sciences and EngineeringPeking UniversityBeijingChina
  3. 3.Zhejiang Provincial Zhoushan Marine Ecological Environmental Monitoring StationZhoushanChina

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