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Seasonal microbial variation accounts for arsenic dynamics in shallow alluvial aquifer systems


Zheng, Tianliang; Deng, Yamin; Wang, Yanxin; Jiang, Hongchen; O’Loughlin, Edward; Flynn, Theodore; Gan, Yiqun; Ma, Teng


Determining the temporal variation of microbial communities in groundwater systems is essential to improve our understanding of hydrochemical dynamics in aquifers, particularly as it relates to the fate of redox-sensitive contaminants like arsenic (As). Therefore, a high-resolution hydrobiogeochemical investigation was conducted in the As-affected alluvial aquifer systems of the Jianghan Plain. In two 25 m-deep monitoring wells, the seasonal variation in the composition of groundwater microbial communities was positively correlated with the change in groundwater level (R = 0.47 and 0.39 in NH03B and NH05B, respectively, P < 0.01), implying that the latter could be a primary driver of the seasonal microbial dynamics. In response to the fluctuating groundwater level, iron (Fe) reducers within the Desulfuromonadales were dominant (9.9 +/- 4.7% among different sampling sites) in groundwater microbial communities during the monsoon season and associated with high concentrations of Fe(II) and As, while the predominance (16.7 +/- 15.2% among different sampling sites) of iron-oxidizers the Gallionellaceae was accompanied by low Fe(II) and As in the non-monsoon season. These results suggest that microbially-mediated iron reduction/oxidation may have governed the seasonal mobilization/scavenging of As in groundwater. Our results provide new insights into mechanisms responsible for seasonal variations in groundwater As concentrations in similar aquifer systems.



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