Do metal contamination and plant species affect microbial abundance and bacterial diversity in the rhizosphere of metallophytes growing in mining areas in a semiarid climate?

Leila Benidire, Sofia I. A. Pereira, Ahmed Naylo, Paula M. L. Castro, Ali Boularbah*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Purpose: Mining areas are low-quality habitats for macro- and microorganisms’ development, mainly due to the degradation of the soil quality by metal pollution. The present work aimed to analyze the influence of metal contamination and of plant species on the rhizospheric microbial communities of four indigenous metallophytes (Ononis natrix, Haloxylon scoparium, Peganum harmala, and Aizoon canariense) growing along a metal contamination gradient in Kettara mine near Marrakech, Morocco. Materials and methods: In pyrrhotite mining areas (Kettara mine, Morocco), rhizosphere soil samples were collected from four predominant indigenous metallophytes (O. natrix, H. scoparium, P. harmala, and A. canariense) growing along a metal contamination gradient (ZC, control zone; Z1, high metal contamination; Z2, moderate metal contamination; Z3, low metal contamination). Microbial communities were analyzed by using microbial counts and by denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE). The physicochemical properties (pH, conductivity, total organic carbon, nitrogen, P Olsen, and metal concentrations) of soils were also determined. Results and discussion: The physicochemical analysis revealed that rhizospheric soils from Z1, Z2, and Z3 were relatively poor in nutrients as they presented low levels of total organic carbon and nitrogen, organic matter and available P. Moreover, these rhizospheric soils showed high concentrations of metals, especially Cu and Pb, which significantly reduced the abundance of the different groups of soil microorganisms (bacteria, fungi, and actinomycetes) and the activity of soil dehydrogenase. The analysis of bacterial communities by DGGE revealed that bacterial diversity was not negatively affected by metal contamination being higher in the most contaminated area (Z1). Conclusions: Overall, the microbial abundance, the composition, and the diversity of rhizospheric bacterial communities were more influenced by the environmental factors in sampling zones than by plant cover. Microbial counts and enzymatic activity were both systematically affected throughout the metal gradient, evidencing as good indicators of the harmful effects of anthropogenic disturbances in soils. H. scorparium and P. harmala proved to be good candidates for the development of phytotechnological programs aiming the revegetation of mining degraded areas.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1003-1017
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Soils and Sediments
Volume20
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2020

Keywords

  • Bacterial diversity
  • Denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE)
  • Metal pollution
  • Microbial counts
  • Mine soil
  • Rhizosphere

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