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Effects of Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) and Perfluorooctane Sulfonic Acid (PFOS) on Soil Microbial Community


The extensive application of perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) causes their frequent detection in various environments. In this work, two typical PFASs, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), are selected to investigate their effects on soil microorganisms. Microbial community structure and microbe–microbe relationships were investigated by high-throughput sequencing and co-occurrence network analysis. Under 90 days of exposure, the alpha-diversity of soil microbial communities was increased with the PFOS treatment, followed by the PFOA treatment. The exposure of PFASs substantially changed the compositions of soil microbial communities, leading to the enrichment of more PFASs-tolerant bacteria, such as Proteobacteria, Burkholderiales, and Rhodocyclales. Comparative co-occurrence networks were constructed to investigate the microbe–microbe interactions under different PFASs treatments. The majority of nodes in the PFOA and PFOS networks were associated with the genus Azospirillum and Hydrogenophaga, respectively. The LEfSe analysis further identified a set of biomarkers in the soil microbial communities, such as Azospirillum, Methyloversatilis, Hydrogenophaga, Pseudoxanthomonas, and Fusibacter. The relative abundances of these biomarkers were also changed by different PFASs treatments. Functional gene prediction suggested that the microbial metabolism processes, such as nucleotide transport and metabolism, cell motility, carbohydrate transport and metabolism, energy production and conversion, and secondary metabolites biosynthesis transport and catabolism, might be inhibited under PFAS exposure, which may further affect soil ecological services.

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Data Availability

The datasets generated during the current study are available in the NCBI database under the project number PRJNA694469.


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We thank LetPub ( for its linguistic assistance during the preparation of this manuscript.


This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos. 42007357 and 41771301), the China Postdoctoral Science Foundation (Grant Nos. 2020T130127 and 2019M662825), the Science and Technology Planning Project of Guangzhou (Grant No. 202002030271), Guangdong Basic and Applied Basic Research Foundation (Grant No. 2019A1515110351), GDAS’ Project of Science and Technology Development (Grant Nos. 2020GDASYL-20200103086, 2020GDASYL-20200102015, 2020GDASYL-20200102014, and 2019GDASYL-0301002), Guangdong Foundation for Program of Science and Technology Research (Grant No. 2019B121205006), and Guangdong Introducing Innovative and Entrepreneurial Talents (Grant No. 2017GC010570).

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Conceptualization: Weimin Sun, Rui Xu; Methodology: Rui Xu, Wan Tao, Xiaoxu Sun; Formal analysis and investigation: Hanzhi Lin; Writing—original draft preparation: Wan Tao, Duanyi Huang; Writing—review and editing: Rui Xu, Pin Gao, Zhaohui Yang; Funding acquisition: Rui Xu, Weimin Sun; Supervision: Weimin Sun.

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Correspondence to Weimin Sun.

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Rui Xu and Wan Tao are contributed equally.

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Xu, R., Tao, W., Lin, H. et al. Effects of Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) and Perfluorooctane Sulfonic Acid (PFOS) on Soil Microbial Community. Microb Ecol (2021).

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  • Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs)
  • Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA)
  • Perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS)
  • Soil microbial community
  • High-throughput sequencing
  • Co-occurrence network