Distribution of microbial communities in metal-contaminated nearshore sediment from Eastern Guangdong, China

Mei Zhuang, Edmond Sanganyado, Ping Li, Wenhua Liu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


Nearshore environments are a critical transitional zone that connects the marine and terrestrial/freshwater ecosystems. The release of anthropogenic chemicals into nearshore ecosystems pose a human and environmental health risk. We investigated the microbial diversity, abundance and function in metal-contaminated sediments collected from the Rongjiang, Hanjiang and Lianjiang River estuaries and adjacent coastal areas using high throughput sequencing. The concentration of nutrients (NO3-N, NO2-N, NH4-N, PO4-P) and metal (Cu, Zn, Cd, Pb, As, Hg) contaminants were higher at the mouth of the rivers compared to the coastal lines, and this was confirmed using cluster analysis. Estimates obtained using geoaccumulation index showed that about 38.9% of the sites were contaminated with Pb and the pollution load index showed that sediment from the mouth of Hanjiang River Estuary was moderately polluted with metals. In the nearshore sediment samples collected, Proteobacteria, Bacteroidetes, Planctomycetes, Chloroflexi, Acidobacteria were the dominant phylum with relative abundances of 46.6%, 8.05%, 6.47%, 5.26%, and 4.59%, respectively. There was no significant correlation between environmental variables and microbial abundance and diversity except for total organic carbon (TOC) (diversity; r = 0.569, p < 0.05) and Cr (diversity; r = 0.581, p < 0.05). At phyla level, Nitrospirae had a significant negative correlation with all metals except Cr, while OD1 had a significant positive correlation with all the metals. Overall, changes in nearshore sediment microbial communities by environmental factors were observed, and these may affect biogeochemical cycling.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)482-492
Number of pages11
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
StatePublished - Jul 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Human activities
  • Metal pollution
  • Microbial diversity and abundance
  • Nearshore ecosystem


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