Environmental biology

Bacterial diversity in soils around a lead and zinc mine

HU Qing , QI Hong-yan , ZENG Jing-hai , ZHANG Hong-xun


Received January 12, 2006,Revised March 07, 2006, Accepted , Available online

Volume 19,2007,Pages 74-79

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Five samples of soil collected from a lead and zinc mine were used to assess the effect of combined contamination of heavy metals on soil bacterial communities using a polyphasic approach including characterization of isolates by culture method, community level catabolic profiling in BIOLOG GN microplates, and genetic community fingerprinting by denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis of 16S rDNA fragments amplified by PCR from community DNA (PCR-DGGE). The structure of the bacterial community was affected to a certain extent by heavy metals. The PCR-DGGE analysis of 16S rRNA genes showed that there were significant differences in the structure of the microbial community among the soil samples, which were related to the contamination levels. The number of bacteria and the number of denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) bands in the soils increased with increasing distance from the lead and zinc mine tailing, whereas the concentration of lead (Pb) and cadmium (Cd) was decreased. Heavily polluted soils could be characterized by a community that differs from those of lightly polluted soils in richness and structure of dominating bacterial populations. The clustering analysis of the DGGE profiles showed that the bacteria in all the five samples of soil belonged to three clusters. The data from the BIOLOG analysis also showed the same result. This study showed that heavy metal contamination decreased both the biomass and diversity of the bacterial community in soil.

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