Soil prokaryotic communities in Chernobyl waste disposal trench T22 are modulated by organic matter and radionuclide contamination

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After the Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident in 1986, contaminated soils, vegetation from the Red Forest and other radioactive debris were buried within trenches. In this area, trench T22 has long been a pilot site for the study of radionuclide migration in soil. Here, we used 454 pyrosequencing of 16S rRNA genes to obtain a comprehensive view of the bacterial and archaeal diversity in soils collected inside and in the vicinity of the trench T22 and to investigate the impact of radioactive waste disposal on prokaryotic communities. A remarkably high abundance of Chloroflexi and AD3 was detected in all soil samples from this area. Our statistical analysis revealed profound changes in community composition at the phylum and OTUs levels and higher diversity in the trench soils as compared to the outside. Our results demonstrate that the total absorbed dose rate by cell and, to a lesser extent the organic matter content of the trench, are the principal variables influencing prokaryotic assemblages. We identified specific phylotypes affiliated to the phyla Crenarchaeota, Acidobacteria, AD3, Chloroflexi, Proteobacteria, Verrucomicrobia and WPS-2, which were unique for the trench soils.

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