Synergistic impact of bioavailable PHEs and alkalinity on microbial diversity and traits in agricultural soil adjacent to chromium-asbestos mines

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Soil microbial communities undergo constant fluctuations, particularly in response to environmental factors. Although the deposition of toxic mine waste is recognized for introducing potentially hazardous elements (PHEs) into the soil, its specific impacts on microbial communities remain unclear. This study aims to explore the combined effects of soil alkalinity and bioavailable PHEs on microbial diversity and traits in agricultural soil adjacent to a chromium-asbestos mining area. By employing a comprehensive analysis, this study indicated that microbiological attributes were reduced in contaminated areas (zone 1), whereas both the levels of bioavailable PHEs (CrWs: 31.08 mg/kg, NiWs: 13.90 mg/kg) and alkalinity indices (CROSS, MCAR, MH) were significantly higher. The spatial distribution of soil alkalinity and bioavailable PHEs, primarily originating from chromium-asbestos mines, has been determined. This study also elucidates the negative relationship between soil stressors (Alkalinity and PHEs) and microbial activities (soil enzymatic activity, microbial respiration, and biomass carbon). The vector's length exhibited a notable difference between zone 1 (0.51) and zone 2 (0.32), indicating a substantial limitation on carbon (C). Also, the investigation of soil bacterial diversity unveiled notable disparities in the prevalence of microbial populations inside zone 1. Proteobacteria constituted 57.18% of the total population indicating a noteworthy prevalence in the contaminated soils. Finally, the random forest (RF) algorithm from machine learning was selected and proven to be a robust choice in Taylor diagrams for predicting the causative stressors responsible for the deterioration of soil microbial health. Therefore, this research offers insights into the health and resilience of soil microbial communities under synergistic stress conditions, which will aid environmentalists in planning future interventions and improving sustainable farming techniques.

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Environmental Pollution