Bacterial community rather than metals shaping metal resistance genes in water, sediment and biofilm in lakes from arid northwestern China

Wenjuan Song, Ran Qi, Li Zhao, Nana Xue, Liyi Wang, Yuyi Yang (Lead / Corresponding author)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)


Lakes in arid northwestern China are valuable freshwater resources that drive socioeconomic development. Environmental pollution can significantly influence the composition of microbial communities and the distribution of functional genes in lakes. This study investigated heavy metal pollution to identify possible correlations with metal resistance genes (MRGs) and bacterial community composition in water, sediment and biofilm samples from Bosten Lake and Ebi Lake in northwestern China. High levels of zinc were detected in all samples. However, the metals detected in the sediment samples of both lakes were determined to be at low risk levels according to an ecological index. The mercury resistance gene subtype merP had the greatest average abundance (4.61 × 10−3 copies per 16S rRNA) among all the samples, followed by merA and merC. The high abundance of merA in the pelagic zone rather than in benthic sediment suggests that the pelagic microbial community was important in mercury reduction. Proteobacteria were the main phylum found in the microbial communities in all samples. However, microbial communities in most of the water, sediment and biofilm samples had different compositions, indicating that the habitat niche plays an important role in shaping the bacterial communities in lakes. The microbial community, rather than the heavy metals, was the main driver of MRG distribution. The abundances of some bacterial genera involved in the decomposition of organic matter and the terrestrial nitrogen cycle were negatively correlated with heavy metals. This result suggests that metal pollution can adversely affect the biogeochemical processes that occur in lakes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number113041
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
Issue numberPart A
Early online date10 Aug 2019
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2019


  • Bacterial community
  • Bosten lake
  • Ebi lake
  • Mercury resistance genes
  • Sediment quality guidelines
  • Water
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical/analysis
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Bacteria/genetics
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S/genetics
  • Microbiota
  • Biofilms
  • China
  • Metals, Heavy/analysis
  • Proteobacteria/genetics
  • Lakes/chemistry
  • Geologic Sediments/chemistry
  • Water Microbiology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
  • Toxicology


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