Effects of metal and metalloid pollutants on the microbiota composition of feces obtained from twelve commercial pig farms across China

Zixin Peng, Jinling Zhang, Séamus Fanning, Liangliang Wang, Menghan Li, Nikunj Maheshwari, Jun Sun, Fengqin Li*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Understanding the metal and metalloid contamination and microbiota composition of pig feces is an important step required to support the design and implementation of effective pollution control and prevention strategies. A survey was implemented in 12 locations across China to investigate the content of metals and metalloids, and the main composition of the microbial communities of commercially reared pigs during two growth periods, defined as the early (Q group) and the later fattening growth phases (H group). These data showed widespread Al, Mn, Cu, Zn, and Fe pollution in pig feces. The concentration of Zn in the Q group feces was nearly two times higher than the levels measured in the H group. The microbial composition of the Q group exhibited greater richness of operational taxonomic units (OTUs) and fewer bacteria associated with zoonotic diseases compared with the microbial composition of the H group. Spearman rank correlation analysis showed that Cu and northern latitudes had a significant positive effect on the richness of bacterial communities in pig feces. Zn and Cd exhibited the biggest impact on microbial community composition based on canonical correspondence analysis. Functional metagenomic prediction indicated that about 0.8% genes present in the pig feces bacteria community are related to human diseases, and significantly more predicted pathogenic genes were detected in the H group than in the Q group. These results support the need to monitor heavy metal contamination and to control for zoonotic pathogens disseminated from pig feces in Chinese pig farms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)577-586
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Early online date03 Aug 2018
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jan 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Bacterial community
  • Copper
  • Fattening growth phase
  • Full-length 16S rRNA sequencing
  • Zinc
  • Zoonotic pathogens

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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