Soil microbial communities have great potential for bioremediation of recalcitrant aromatic compounds. However, it is unclear which taxa and genes in the communities, and how they contribute to the bioremediation in the polluted soils. To get clues about this fundamental question here, time-course (up to 24 weeks) metagenomic analysis of microbial community in a closed soil microcosm artificially polluted with four aromatic compounds, including phenanthrene, was conducted to investigate the changes in the community structures and gene pools. The pollution led to drastic changes in the community structures and the gene sets for pollutant degradation. Complete degradation of phenanthrene was strongly suggested to occur by the syntrophic metabolism by Mycobacterium and the most proliferating genus, Burkholderia. The community structure at Week 24 (∼12 weeks after disappearance of the pollutants) returned to the structure similar to that before pollution. Our time-course metagenomic analysis of phage genes strongly suggested the involvement of the 'kill-the-winner' phenomenon (i.e. phage predation of Burkholderia cells) for the returning of the microbial community structure. The pollution resulted in a decrease in taxonomic diversity and a drastic increase in diversity of gene pools in the communities, showing the functional redundancy and robustness of the communities against chemical disturbance.
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