Open Access

Diversity of Soil Microbial Communities from an Iron Mining Area (Oued Zem, Morocco)


Microbial communities in the soil were collected from 20 samples of an iron mining area (Ait Ammar, Oued Zem, Morocco), and unaffected samples were analysed to identify the effects of metal concentrations on functional diversity (Biolog® EcoPlates), and structural diversity (polymerase chain reaction-denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis of 16S rDNA). Aliivibrio fischeri is mainly used for evaluating polluted soil. The functional diversity was assessed by using such indices as area under substrate utilisation curve, richness, Shannon- Weaver and evenness indices. The analysis of similarities and the non-metric multidimensional scaling analyses of DGGE profiles showed that metals in the soil do not have a significant influence on bacteria. Principal component analysis of Biolog data revealed the similarity in the metabolic profiles of mining samples. These results suggest that the direction and the distance from the iron mine tailings do not have significant effects on the metabolic and structural diversity of the soil bacterial population. The toxicity of metals in soils heavily contaminated with Fe and P did not affect the quantities of microbial populations and did not significantly change the microbial diversity of contaminated soils.