Changes of root microbial populations of natively grown plants during natural attenuation of V–Ti magnetite tailings

Xia Kang, Yongliang Cui, Tian Shen, Min Yan, Weiguo Tu, Muhammad Shoaib, Quanju Xiang, Ke Zhao, Yunfu Gu, Qiang Chen, Shuangcheng Li, Yueyang Liang, Menggen Ma, Likou Zou, Xiumei Yu (Lead / Corresponding author)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Mine tailings contain dangerously high levels of toxic metals which pose a constant threat to local ecosystems. Few naturally grown native plants can colonize tailings site and the existence of their root-associated microbial populations is poorly understood. The objective of this study was to give further insights into the interactions between native plants and their microbiota during natural attenuation of abandoned V–Ti magnetite mine tailings. In the present work, we first examined the native plants’ potential for phytoremediation using plant/soil analytical methods and then investigated the root microbial communities and their inferred functions using 16 S rRNA-based metagenomics. It was found that in V–Ti magnetite mine tailings the two dominant plants Bothriochloa ischaemum and Typha angustifolia were able to increase available nitrogen in the rhizosphere soil by 23.3% and 53.7% respectively. The translocation factors (TF) for both plants indicated that B. ischaemum was able to accumulate Pb (TF = 1.212), while T. angustifolia was an accumulator of Mn (TF = 2.502). The microbial community structure was more complex in the soil associated with T. angustifolia than with B. ischaemum. The presence of both plants significantly reduced the population of Acinetobacter. Specifically, B. ischaemum enriched Massilia, Opitutus and Hydrogenophaga species while T. angustifolia significantly increased rhizobia species. Multivariate analyses revealed that among all tested soil variables Fe and total organic carbon (TOC) could be the key factors in shaping the microbial structure. The putative functional analysis indicated that soil sample of B. ischaemum was abundant with nitrate/nitrite reduction-related functions while that of T. angustifolia was rich in nitrogen fixing functions. The results indicate that these native plants host a diverse range of soil microbes, whose community structure can be shaped by plant types and soil variables. It is also possible that these plants can be used to improve soil nitrogen content and serve as bioaccumulators for Pb or Mn for phytoremediation purposes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number110816
Number of pages12
JournalEcotoxicology and Environmental Safety
Early online date7 Jun 2020
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sept 2020


  • Bothriochloa ischaemum
  • Heavy metal
  • Metagenomics
  • Soil microbiome
  • Typha angustifolia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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