Analysis of viral and bacterial communities in groundwater associated with contaminated land

Ricardo Costeira, Rory Doherty, Christopher C.R. Allen, Michael J. Larkin, Leonid A. Kulakov*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
703 Downloads (Pure)


This work aimed at the comprehensive analysis of total microbial communities inhabiting a typical hydrocarbon-polluted site, where chemical characteristics of the groundwater were readily available. To achieve this, a joint metagenomic characterization of bacteria and viruses surrounding a contaminant plume was performed over a one-year period. The results presented demonstrated that both potential hydrocarbon degraders and their bacteriophages were dominant around the plume, and that the viral and bacterial diversities found at the site were probably influenced by the pH of the groundwater. Niche-specific and dispersed associations between phages and bacteria were identified. The niche phage-host associations were found at the edge of the site and at the core of the plume where pH was the highest (9.52). The identified host populations included several classes of bacteria (e.g. Clostridia and Proteobacteria). Thirty-six viral generalists were also discovered, with BGW-G9 having the broadest host range across 23 taxa, including Pseudomonas, Polycyclovorans, Methylocaldum and Candidatus Magnetobacterium species. The phages with broad host ranges are presumed to have significant effects on prokaryotic production and horizontal gene transfer, and therefore impact the biodegradation processes conducted by various bacteria of the environment studied. This study for the first time characterized the phages and their bacterial hosts associated with a contaminant plume.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1413-1426
Number of pages14
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Early online date03 Dec 2018
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2019


  • Bacteria
  • Bacteriophages
  • Bioremediation
  • Gasworks
  • Metagenomics
  • Water resources

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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