Metal-induced bacterial interactions promote diversity in river-sediment microbiomes

FEMS Microbiol Ecol. 2020 Jun 1;96(6):fiaa076. doi: 10.1093/femsec/fiaa076.


Anthropogenic metal contamination results in long-term environmental selective pressure with unclear impacts on bacterial communities, which comprise key players in ecosystem functioning. Since metal contamination poses serious toxicity and bioaccumulation issues, assessing their impact on environmental microbiomes is important to respond to current environmental and health issues. Despite elevated metal concentrations, the river sedimentary microbiome near the MetalEurop foundry (France) shows unexpected higher diversity compared with the upstream control site. In this work, a follow-up of the microbial community assembly during a metal contamination event was performed in microcosms with periodic renewal of the supernatant river water. Sediments of the control site were gradually exposed to a mixture of metals (Cd, Cu, Pb and Zn) in order to reach similar concentrations to MetalEurop sediments. Illumina sequencing of 16S rRNA gene amplicons was performed. Metal-resistant genes, czcA and pbrA, as well as IncP plasmid content, were assessed by quantitative PCR. The outcomes of this study support previous in situ observations showing that metals act as community assembly managers, increasing diversity. This work revealed progressive adaptation of the sediment microbiome through the selection of different metal-resistant mechanisms and cross-species interactions involving public good-providing bacteria co-occurring with the rest of the community.

Keywords: community assembly; diversity; facilitator bacteria; metal; microbiome; river sediment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / genetics
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • France
  • Geologic Sediments
  • Metals
  • Metals, Heavy* / analysis
  • Metals, Heavy* / toxicity
  • Microbiota*
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / genetics
  • Rivers
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical* / analysis


  • Metals
  • Metals, Heavy
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical