Functional and Taxonomic Effects of Organic Amendments on the Restoration of Semiarid Quarry Soils

mSystems. 2021 Nov 23:e0075221. doi: 10.1128/mSystems.00752-21. Online ahead of print.


The application of organic amendments to mining soils has been shown to be a successful method of restoration, improving key physicochemical soil properties. However, there is a lack of a clear understanding of the soil bacterial community taxonomic and functional changes that are brought about by these treatments. We present further metagenomic sequencing (MGS) profiling of the effects of different restoration treatments applied to degraded, arid quarry soils in southern Spain which had previously been profiled only with 16S rRNA gene (16S) and physicochemical analyses. Both taxonomic and functional MGS profiles showed clear separation of organic treatment amendments from control samples, and although taxonomic differences were quite clear, functional redundancy was higher than expected and the majority of the latter signal came from the aggregation of minor (<0.1%) community differences. Significant taxonomic differences were seen with the presumably less-biased MGS-for example, the phylum Actinobacteria and the two genera Chloracidobacterium (Acidobacteria) and Paenibacillus (Firmicutes) were determined to be major players by the MGS and this was consistent with their potential functional roles. The former phylum was much less present, and the latter two genera were either minor components or not detected in the 16S data. Mapping of reads to MetaCyc/BioCyc categories showed overall slightly higher biosynthesis and degradation capabilities in all treatments versus control soils, with sewage amendments showing highest values and vegetable-based amendments being at intermediate levels, matching higher nutrient levels, respiration rates, enzyme activities, and bacterial biomass previously observed in the treated soils. IMPORTANCE The restoration of soils impacted by human activities poses specific challenges regarding the reestablishment of functional microbial communities which will further support the reintroduction of plant species. Organic fertilizers, originating from either treated sewage or vegetable wastes, have shown promise in restoration experiments; however, we still do not have a clear understanding of the functional and taxonomic changes that occur during these treatments. We used metagenomics to profile restoration treatments applied to degraded, arid quarry soils in southern Spain. We found that the assortments of individual functions and taxa within each soil could clearly identify treatments, while at the same time they demonstrated high functional redundancy. Functions grouped into higher pathways tended to match physicochemical measurements made on the same soils. In contrast, significant taxonomic differences were seen when the treatments were previously studied with a single marker gene, highlighting the advantage of metagenomic analysis for complex soil communities.

PMID:34812648 | DOI:10.1128/mSystems.00752-21


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