Ecological selection of bacterial taxa with larger genome sizes in response to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons stress

Xuliang Zhuang , Yuzhu Dong , Shanghua Wu , Haonan Fan , Xianglong Li , Yijing Li , Shengjun Xu , Zhihui Bai


Received December 02, 2020,Revised , Accepted April 25, 2021, Available online May 29, 2021

Volume 34,2022,Pages 82-93

Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are ubiquitous priority pollutants that cause great damage to the natural environment and health. Average genome size in a community is critical for shedding light on microbiome’s functional response to pollution stress within an environment. Here, microcosms under different concentrations were performed to evaluate the selection of PAHs stress on the average genome size in a community. We found the distinct communities of significantly larger genome size with the increase of PAHs concentration gradients in soils, and consistent trends were discovered in soils at different latitudes. The abundance of Proteobacteria and Deinococcus-Thermus with relatively larger genomes increased along with PAHs stress and well adapted to polluted environments. In contrast, the abundance of Patescibacteria with a highly streamlined and smaller genome decreased, implying complex interactions between environmental selection and functional fitness resulted in bacteria with larger genomes becoming more abundant. Moreover, we confirmed the increased capacity for horizontal transfer of degrading genes between communities by showing an increased connection number per node positively related to the nidA gene along the concentration gradients in the co-occurrence network. Our findings suggest PAHs tend to select bacterial taxa with larger genome sizes, with significant consequences for community stability and potential biodegradation strategies.

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