Metal-polluted soils destroy bacterial diversity

Has metal-polluted food caused a pandemic of acid reflux disease?

Science, Vol 309, Issue 5739, 1387-1390 , 26 August 2005
DOI: 10.1126/science.1112665]

Computational Improvements Reveal Great Bacterial Diversity and High Metal Toxicity in
Jason Gans, Murray Wolinsky, John Dunbar

The complexity of soil bacterial communities has thus far confounded effective measurement.
However, with improved analytical methods, we show that the abundance distribution and total
diversity can be deciphered. Reanalysis of reassociation kinetics for bacterial community DNA from
pristine and metal-polluted soils showed that a power law best described the abundance
distributions. More than one million distinct genomes occurred in the pristine soil, exceeding
previous estimates by two orders of magnitude.
Metal pollution reduced diversity more than
99.9%, revealing the highly toxic effect of metal contamination, especially for rare taxa.

Bioscience Division, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, NM 87501, USA.