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Investigation of the Ecological Roles of Putative Keystone Taxa during Tailing Revegetation

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journal contribution
posted on 25.08.2020, 16:36 by Xiaoxu Sun, Rui Xu, Yiran Dong, Fangbai Li, Wan Tao, Tianle Kong, Miaomiao Zhang, Lang Qiu, Xiaoyu Wang, Weimin Sun
Metal contamination released from tailings is a global environmental concern. Although phytoremediation is a promising remediation method, its practice is often impeded by the adverse tailing geochemical conditions, which suppress biological activities. The ecosystem services provided by indigenous microorganisms could alter environmental conditions and facilitate revegetation in tailings. During the process, the keystone taxa of the microbial community are assumed an essential role in regulating the community composition and functions. The identity and the environmental functions of the keystone taxa during tailing revegetation, however, remain unelucidated. The current study compared the microbial community composition and interactions of two contrasting stibnite (Sb2S3) tailings, one revegetated and one unvegetated. The microbial interaction networks and keystone taxa were significantly different in the two tailings. Similar keystone taxa were also identified in other revegetated tailings, but not in their corresponding unvegetated tailings. Metagenome-assembled genomes (MAGs) indicated that the keystone taxa in the revegetated tailing may use both organic and inorganic energy sources (e.g., sulfur, arsenic, and antimony). They could also facilitate plant growth since a number of plant-growth-promoting genes, including phosphorus solubilization and siderophore production genes, were encoded. The current study suggests that keystone taxa may play important roles in tailing revegetation by providing nutrients, such as P and Fe, and promoting plant growth.