Heavy metal pollution increases CH4 and decreases CO2 emissions due to soil microbial changes in a mangrove wetland: Microcosm experiment and field examination

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Anyi Niu
  • Zhenni Liao
  • Qunhao Qin
  • Songjun Xu
  • Chuxia Lin

External organisations

  • South China Normal University
  • South China Agricultural University
  • Deakin University


Mangrove plays an important role in modulating global warming through substantial blue carbon storage relative to their greenhouse gas emission potential. The presence of heavy metals in mangrove wetlands can influence soil microbial communities with implications for decomposition of soil organic matter and emission of greenhouse gases. In this study, field monitoring and a microcosm experiment were conducted to examine the impacts of heavy metal pollution on soil microbial communities and greenhouse gas fluxes. The results show that heavy metal pollution decreased the richness and diversity of the overall soil microbial functional groups (heterotrophs and lithotrophs); however, it did not inhibit the activities of the methanogenic communities, possibly due to their stronger tolerance to heavy metal toxicity compared to the broader soil microbial communities. Consequently, the presence of heavy metals in the mangrove soils significantly increased the emission of CH4 while the emission of CO2 as a proxy of soil microbial respiration was decreased. The soil organic carbon content could also buffer the effect of heavy metal pollution and influence CO2 emissions due to reduced toxicity to microbes. The findings have implications for understanding the complication of greenhouse gas emissions by heavy metal pollution in mangrove wetlands.

Bibliographic note

Funding Information: This study was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant number 41877411 ) and International Training Project for Outstanding Young Scientific Research Talents in Guangdong Universities in 2018. Publisher Copyright: © 2020 Elsevier Ltd Copyright: Copyright 2020 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


Original languageEnglish
Article number128735
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2020


  • Greenhouse gas emission, Heavy metal pollution, Mangrove wetland, Methanogenic communities, Soil organic carbon