Microbial communities in rare earth mining soil after in-situ leaching mining

Jingjing Liu, Wei Liu, Yingbin Zhang, Chongjun Chen, Weixiang Wu, Tian C. Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


In-situ leaching technology is now widely used to exploit ion adsorption rare earth ore, which has caused serious environmental problems and deterioration of mining soil ecosystems. However, our knowledge about the influences of mining operation on the microbiota in these ecosystems is currently very limited. In this study, diversity and composition of prokaryote and ammonia-oxidizing microorganisms in rare earth mining soil after in-situ leaching practice were examined using quantitative Polymerase Chain Reaction (qPCR) and Illumina high-throughput sequencing. Results showed that in-situ leaching mining considerably impacted microbial communities of the mining soils. The abundances of bacterial, archaeal, and ammonia-oxidizing archaea (AOA) were significantly and negatively correlated with ionic rare earth elements (REEs), while their diversities were relatively stable. Total rare earth elements (TREEs) and ammonium were the strongest predictors of the bacterial community structure, and organic matter was the key factor predicting the variation in the archaeal community. Chloroflexi, Proteobacteria, Acidobacteria, and Actinobacteria were the most abundant bacterial phyla, and archaeal communities were dominated by Thaumarchaeota. Phylogenetic analysis indicated that unclassified Thaumarchaeota and Crenarchaeota were the predominant AOA groups. The non-detection of ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB) and the abundance of AOA indicated that archaea rather than bacteria were predominantly responsible for ammonia oxidation in the mining soil. Network analysis demonstrated that positive interactions among microorganisms could increase their adaptability or resistance to this harsh environment. This study provides a comprehensive analysis of the prokaryotic communities and functional groups in rare earth mining soil after mining operation, as well as insight into the potential interactive mechanisms among soil microbes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number142521
JournalScience of the Total Environment
StatePublished - Feb 10 2021


  • Ammonia-oxidizing microorganism
  • Community structure
  • MiSeq sequencing
  • Rare earth mining soil

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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