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Pollution caused by mining reshaped the structure and function of bacterial communities in China's largest ion-adsorption rare earth mine watershed

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  • Wang Shu, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Sino-Danish Centre for Education and Research
  • ,
  • Fadong Li, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences
  • ,
  • Qiuying Zhang, Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences
  • ,
  • Zhao Li, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences
  • ,
  • Yunfeng Qiao, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences
  • ,
  • Joachim Audet
  • Gang Chen, Florida State University

Ion-adsorption rare earth mining results in the production of high levels of nitrogen, multiple metals, and strong acidic mine drainage (AMD), the impacts of which on microbial assembly and ecological functions remain unclear. To address this knowledge gap, we collected river sediments from the watershed of China's largest ion-adsorption rare earth mine and analyzed the bacterial community's structure, function, and assembly mechanisms. Results showed that bacterial community assembly was weakly affected by spatial dispersion, and dispersal limitation and homogeneous selection were the dominant ecological processes, with the latter increasing with pollution gradients. Bacterial alpha diversity decreased with pollution, which was mainly influenced by lead (Pb), pH, rare earth elements (REEs), and electrical conductivity (EC). However, bacteria developed survival strategies (i.e., enhanced acid tolerance and interspecific competition) to adapt to extreme environments, sustaining species diversity and community stability. Community structure and function showed a consistent response to the polluted environment (r = 0.662, P = 0.001). Enhanced environmental selection reshaped key microbial-mediated biogeochemical processes in the mining area, in particular weakening the potential for microbial denitrification. These findings provide new insights into the ecological response of microbes to compound pollution and offer theoretical support for proposing effective remediation and management strategies for polluted areas.

TidsskriftJournal of Hazardous Materials
StatusUdgivet - jun. 2023

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