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Title: High Arsenic Levels Increase Activity Rather than Diversity or Abundance of Arsenic Metabolism Genes in Paddy Soils
ABSTRACT Arsenic (As) metabolism genes are generally present in soils, but their diversity, relative abundance, and transcriptional activity in response to different As concentrations remain unclear, limiting our understanding of the microbial activities that control the fate of an important environmental pollutant. To address this issue, we applied metagenomics and metatranscriptomics to paddy soils showing a gradient of As concentrations to investigate As resistance genes ( ars ) including arsR , acr3 , arsB , arsC , arsM , arsI , arsP , and arsH as well as energy-generating As respiratory oxidation ( aioA ) and reduction ( arrA ) genes. Somewhat unexpectedly, the relative DNA abundances and diversities of ars , aioA , and arrA genes were not significantly different between low and high (∼10 versus ∼100 mg kg −1 ) As soils. Compared to available metagenomes from other soils, geographic distance rather than As levels drove the different compositions of microbial communities. Arsenic significantly increased ars gene abundance only when its concentration was higher than 410 mg kg −1 . In contrast, metatranscriptomics revealed that relative to low-As soils, high-As soils showed a significant increase in transcription of ars and aioA genes, which are induced by arsenite, the more » dominant As species in paddy soils, but not arrA genes, which are induced by arsenate. These patterns appeared to be community wide as opposed to taxon specific. Collectively, our findings advance understanding of how microbes respond to high As levels and the diversity of As metabolism genes in paddy soils and indicated that future studies of As metabolism in soil or other environments should include the function (transcriptome) level. IMPORTANCE Arsenic (As) is a toxic metalloid pervasively present in the environment. Microorganisms have evolved the capacity to metabolize As, and As metabolism genes are ubiquitously present in the environment even in the absence of high concentrations of As. However, these previous studies were carried out at the DNA level; thus, the activity of the As metabolism genes detected remains essentially speculative. Here, we show that the high As levels in paddy soils increased the transcriptional activity rather than the relative DNA abundance and diversity of As metabolism genes. These findings advance our understanding of how microbes respond to and cope with high As levels and have implications for better monitoring and managing an important toxic metalloid in agricultural soils and possibly other ecosystems. « less
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Cann, Isaac
Award ID(s):
1831582 1759831
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Applied and Environmental Microbiology
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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