Changes in microbial community induced by acid shock were studied in the context of potential release of acids to the environment due to chemical accidents. The responses of microbial communities in three different soils to the exposure to sulfuric or hydrofluoric acid and to the subsequent neutralization treatment were investigated as functions of acid concentration and exposure time by using 16S-rRNA gene based pyrosequencing and DGGE (Denaturing Gradient Gel Electrophoresis). Measurements of soil pH and dissolved ion concentrations revealed that the added acids were neutralized to different degrees, depending on the mineral composition and soil texture. Hydrofluoric acid was more effectively neutralized by the soils, compared with sulfuric acid at the same normality. Gram-negative ß-Proteobacteria were shown to be the most acid-sensitive bacterial strains, while spore-forming Gram-positive Bacilli were the most acid-tolerant. The results of this study suggest that the Gram-positive to Gram-negative bacterial ratio may serve as an effective bio-indicator in assessing the impact of the acid shock on the microbial community. Neutralization treatments helped recover the ratio closer to their original values. The findings of this study show that microbial community changes as well as geochemical changes such as pH and dissolved ion concentrations need to be considered in estimating the impact of an acid spill, in selecting an optimal remediation strategy, and in deciding when to end remedial actions at the acid spill impacted site.
Journal of Environmental Management – Elsevier
Published: Dec 15, 2017
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