Highly decomposed organic carbon mediates the assembly of soil communities with traits for the biodegradation of chlorinated pollutants Academic Article uri icon


  • To improve biodegradation strategies for chlorinated pollutants, the roles of soil organic matter and microbial function need to be clarified. It was hypothesised that microbial degradation of specific organic fractions in soils enhance community metabolic capability to degrade chlorinated pollutants. This field study used historic records of dieldrin concentrations since 1988 and established relationships between dieldrin dissipation and soil carbon fractions together with bacterial and fungal diversity in surface soils of Kurosol and Chromosol. Sparse partial least squares analysis linked dieldrin dissipation to metabolic activities associated with the highly decomposed carbon fraction. Dieldrin dissipation, after three decades of natural attenuation, was associated with increased bacterial species fitness for the decomposition of recalcitrant carbon substrates including synthetic chlorinated pollutants. These metabolic capabilities were linked to the decomposed carbon fraction, an important driver for the microbial community and function. Common bacterial traits among taxonomic groups enriched in samples with high dieldrin dissipation included their slow growth, large genome and complex metabolism which supported the notion that metabolic strategies for dieldrin degradation evolved in an energy-low soil environment. The findings provide new perspectives for bioremediation strategies and suggest that soil management should aim at stimulating metabolism at the decomposed, fine carbon fraction.

publication date

  • February 15, 2021