Resilience of Soil Microbial Communities to Metals and Additional Stressors: DNA-Based Approaches for Assessing “Stress-on-Stress” Responses

H. Azarbad, C.A.M. van Gestel, M. Niklińska, R. Laskowski, W.F.M. Röling, N.M. van Straalen

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Many microbial ecology studies have demonstrated profound changes in community composition caused by environmental pollution, as well as adaptation processes allowing survival of microbes in polluted ecosystems. Soil microbial communities in polluted areas with a long-term history of contamination have been shown to maintain their function by developing metal-tolerance mechanisms. In the present work, we review recent experiments, with specific emphasis on studies that have been conducted in polluted areas with a long-term history of contamination that also applied DNA-based approaches. We evaluate how the “costs” of adaptation to metals affect the responses of metal-tolerant communities to other stress factors (“stress-on-stress”). We discuss recent studies on the stability of microbial communities, in terms of resistance and resilience to additional stressors, focusing on metal pollution as the initial stress, and discuss possible factors influencing the functional and structural stability of microbial communities towards secondary stressors. There is increasing evidence that the history of environmental conditions and disturbance regimes play central roles in responses of microbial communities towards secondary stressors.
Original languageEnglish
Article number933
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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