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Effects of Heavy Metal Contamination upon Soil Microbes: Lead-induced Changes in General and Denitrifying Microbial Communities as Evidenced by Molecular Markers

Author(s): Dmitri Sobolev | Maria Begonia

Journal: International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
ISSN 1660-4601

Volume: 5;
Issue: 5;
Start page: 450;
Date: 2008;
Original page

Keywords: Lead | 16S | soil | DGGE | microbial diversity

Lead (Pb) is a common environmental contaminant found in soils. Unlike other metals, Pb has no biological role, and is potentially toxic to microorganisms. Effects of low (1 ppm) and high (500-2000) levels of lead (Pb) upon the soil microbial community was investigated by the PCR/DGGE analysis of the 16S and nirK gene markers, indicative of general microbial community and denitrifying community, respectively. Community analysis by use of those markers had shown that Pb has detectable effects upon the community diversity even at the lowest concentration tested. Analysis of sample diversity and similarity between the samples suggested that there are several thresholds crossed as metal concentration increase, each causing a substantial change in microbial diversity. Preliminary data obtained in this study suggest that the denitrifying microbial community adapts to elevated levels of Pb by selecting for metal-resistant forms of nitrite reductases.
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