Improving land restoration strategies through the study of soil and plant-associated microbiomes

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Christine Martineau, Karelle Rheault, Abdul Samad, Dani Degenhardt, Marie Guittonny, Évelyne Thiffault, Armand Séguin

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Soil and plant-associated microbial communities harbour extended and diverse metabolic capacities. They can degrade contaminants and promote plant growth and tolerance, leading to successful establishment of vegetation under harsh conditions such as those prevailing in some mine waste environments. In return, plant root exudates can promote the growth of microorganisms that could enhance mine waste remediation. The success of this integrative approach is highly dependent on the characterization of microorganisms and plants involved in bioremediation processes and the optimal conditions for their growth and function. In this presentation, the importance of characterizing soil and plant-associated microbiomes in bioremediation processes will be highlighted through examples from phytoremediation experiments conducted on various types of mining waste, including soft tailings generated by various oil sands operators in Alberta and acid generating waste rock from gold mine extraction in the Abitibi-Témiscamingue region. Microbial communities from plant roots/shoots and from the mining residues have been characterized using a metabarcoding approach, and links between plant growth parameters, microbial communities and chemical properties of the tailings have been assessed using multivariate analyses. Results indicated that plant growth can lead to significant shifts in bacterial and fungal community structure and composition, going from lithotrophic communities that dominate mine waste environments to heterotrophic communities involved in nutrient cycling. We conclude that close monitoring of microbial communities during the restoration process can be useful ] to track ecosystem recovery trajectory and develop sustainable restoration strategies.

Resource Type:
Conference Presentation, SER2021

Pre-approved for CECs under SER's CERP program