Recently, the team of Dr. Weimin Sun from the Institute of Eco-environmental and Soil Sciences, Guangdong Academy of Sciences, has made new progress in the research on the ecological roles of tailings microorganisms. The relevant research results have been published in the international environmental authority journal - "Environmental Science & Technology" (JCR 1, IF = 7.864).
This study is an extension of the research content of "Bacterial Survival Strategies in an Alkaline Tailing Site and the Physiological Mechanisms of Dominant Phylotypes As Revealed by Metagenomic Analyses" and "Chemolithoautotropic Diazotrophy Dominates the Nitrogen Fixation Process in Mine Tailings" published in Environmental Science & Technology. This study further expanded the survival strategy of microorganisms to adapt to the extreme environment of tailings. By analyzing the microbial interaction networks of tailings microorganisms, the research team anchored the key microbial populations (Keystone-taxa) that play an important role in the reclamation of tailings, and obtained the keystone-taxa populations through metagenomic component genomes information. The results show that these microorganisms can use the abundant inorganic substrates in the tailings to convert carbon dioxide into organic matter through an autotrophic process, thereby providing the tailings with an initial accumulation of organic matter and ensuring their survival in the barren tailings environment. At the same time, these microorganisms facilitate plant growth since a number of plant-growth-promoting genes, making them have a positive role in the process of replanting tailings.
This study adopted the research idea of microbial interaction networks and keystone taxa analysis to analyze the microbial populations that play a key role in the reclamation process, and provides new ideas for the tailings restoration process and microbial ecology research.