Response of microbial taxonomic and nitrogen functional attributes to elevated nitrate in suburban groundwater

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

  • Ling-Zhi Zhang
  • Wei He
  • Fu-Yi Huang
  • Wei He
  • Pengpeng Zhou
  • Cuibai Chen
  • Christopher Rensing
  • Brandt, Kristian Koefoed
  • Jiangtao He
  • Fei Liu
  • Yi Zhao
  • Huaming Guo

Anthropogenic nitrogen (N) input has led to elevated levels of nitrate nitrogen (NO3-N) in the groundwater. However, insights into the responses of the microbial community and its N metabolic functionality to elevated NO3-N in suburban groundwater are still limited. Here, we explored the microbial taxonomy, N metabolic attributes, and their responses to NO3-N pollution in groundwaters from Chaobai River catchment (CR) and Huai River catchment (HR) in Beijing, China. Results showed that average NO3-N and NH4+-N concentrations in CR groundwater were 1.7 and 3.0 folds of those in HR. NO3-N was the dominant nitrogen specie both in HR and CR groundwater (over 80 %). Significantly different structures and compositions of the microbial communities and N cycling gene profiles were found between CR groundwater and HR groundwater (p < 0.05), with CR groundwater harboring significantly lower microbial richness and abundance of N metabolic genes. However, denitrification was the dominant microbial N cycling process in both CR and HR groundwater. Strong associations among NO3-N, NH4+-N, microbial taxonomic, and N functional attributes were found (p < 0.05), suggesting denitrifiers and Candidatus_Brocadia might serve as potential featured biomarkers for the elevated NO3-N and NH4+-N concentration in groundwater. Path analysis further revealed the significant effect of NO3-N on the overall microbial N functionality and microbial denitrification (p < 0.05). Collectively, our results provide field evidence that elevated levels of NO3-N and NH4+-N under different hydrogeologic conditions had a significant effect on the microbial taxonomic and N functional attributes in groundwater, with potential implications for improving sustainable N management and risk assessment of groundwater.

Original languageEnglish
Article number162524
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Elsevier B.V.

    Research areas

  • Ammonium, Denitrification, Groundwater, Microbial nitrogen cycling, Nitrate

ID: 342678960