The relationships between soil physicochemical properties, bacterial communities and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon concentrations in soils proximal to coking plants

Environ Pollut. 2022 Jan 8;298:118823. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2022.118823. Online ahead of print.


Microbial degradation of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) is the major channel for their decontamination from different environments. Aerobic and anaerobic biodegradations of PAHs in batch reactors with single or multiple bacterial strains have been intensively studied, but the cooperative mechanism of functional PAH-degrading populations at the community level under field conditions remains to be explored. We determined the composition of PAH-degrading populations in the bacterial community and PAHs in farmland and wasteland soils contaminated by coking plants using high-throughput sequencing and high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), respectively. The results indicated that the PAH content of farmland was significantly lower than that of wasteland, which was attributed to the lower content of low molecular weight (LMW) PAHs and benzo [k]fluoranthene. The soil physicochemical properties were significantly different between farmland and wasteland. The naphthalene content was related to the soil organic carbon (SOC) and pH, while phenanthrene was related to the nitrate nitrogen (NO3--N) and water content (WC). The pH, nitrite (NO2--N), SOC, NO3--N and WC were correlated with the content of high molecular weight (HMW) PAHs and total PAHs. The relative abundances of the phyla Actinobacteria, Chloroflexi, Acidobacteria, and Firmicutes and the genera Nocardioides, Bacillus, Lysobacter, Mycobacterium, Streptomyces, and Steroidobacter in farmland soil were higher than those in wasteland soil. The soil physicochemical characteristics of farmland increased the diversities of the PAH degrader and total bacterial communities, which were significantly negatively related to the total PAHs and LMW PAHs. Subsequently, the connectivity and complexity of the network in farmland were lower than those in wasteland, while the module containing a module hub capable of degrading PAHs was identified in the network of farmland soil. Structural equation modelling (SEM) analysis showed that the soil characteristics and optimized abundance and diversity of the bacterial community in farmland were beneficial for the dissipation efficiency of PAHs.

Keywords: Biodegradation; Land use; Microbial diversity; PAHs.