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Impact of treated wastewater for irrigation on soil microbial communities

Ibekwe, A.M., Gonzalez-Rubio, A., Suarez, D.L.
The Science of the total environment 2018 v.622-623 pp. 1603-1610
Actinobacteria, Firmicutes, Proteobacteria, adverse effects, bacterial communities, carbon, denitrifying bacteria, freshwater, indicator species, nitrifying bacteria, nitrogen-fixing bacteria, pathogens, public health, semiarid zones, sequence analysis, soil, soil microorganisms, soil quality, wastewater, wastewater irrigation
The use of treated wastewater (TWW) for irrigation has been suggested as an alternative to use of fresh water because of the increasing scarcity of fresh water in arid and semiarid regions of the world. However, significant barriers exist to widespread adoption due to some potential contaminants that may have adverse effects on soil quality and or public health. In this study, we investigated the abundance and diversity of bacterial communities and the presence of potential pathogenic bacterial sequences in TWW in comparison to synthetic fresh water (SFW) using pyrosequencing. The results were analyzed using UniFrac coupled with principal coordinate analysis (PCoA) to compare diversity and abundance of different bacterial groups in TWW irrigated soils to soils treated with SFW. Shannon diversity index values (H′) suggest that microbial diversity was not significantly different (P<0.086) between soils with TWW and SFW. Pyrosequencing detected sequences of 17 bacterial phyla with Proteobacteria (32.1%) followed by Firmicutes (26.5%) and Actinobacteria (14.3%). Most of the sequences associated with nitrifying bacteria, nitrogen-fixing bacteria, carbon degraders, denitrifying bacteria, potential pathogens, and fecal indicator bacteria were more abundant in TWW than in SFW. Therefore, TWW effluent may contain bacterial that may be very active in many soil functions as well as some potential pathogens.