Drivers of microbial beta-diversity in wastewater treatment plants in China

Xianghua Wen , Bing Zhang , Ting Yang , Chenxiang Sun


Received May 24, 2021,Revised , Accepted July 28, 2021, Available online August 21, 2021

Volume 34,2022,Pages 341-349

As one of the most well-documented biogeographic patterns, the distance-decay relationship provides insights into the underlying mechanisms driving biodiversity distribution. Although wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) are well-controlled engineered ecosystems, this pattern has been seen among microbial communities in activated sludge (AS). However, little is known about the relative importance of environmental heterogeneity and dispersal limitation in shaping AS microbial community across China; especially they are related to spatial scale and organism types. Here, we assessed the distance-decay relationship based on different spatial scales and microbial phylogenetic groups by analyzing 132 activated sludge (AS) samples across China comprising 3,379,200 16S rRNA sequences. Our results indicated that the drivers of distance-decay pattern in China were scale-dependent. Microbial biogeographic patterns in WWTPs were mainly driven by dispersal limitation at both local and national scales. In contrast, conductivity, SRT, and pH played dominant roles in shaping AS microbial community compositions at the regional scale. Turnover rates and the drivers of beta-diversity also varied with microorganism populations. Moreover, a quantitative relationship between dispersal limitation ratio and AS microbial turnover rate was generated. Collectively, these results highlighted the importance of considering multiple spatial scales and micro-organism types for understanding microbial biogeography in WWTPs and provided new insights into predicting variations in AS community structure in response to environmental disturbance.

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