TitleWater management impacts rice methylmercury and the soil microbiome.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsRothenberg, SE, Anders, M, Ajami, NJ, Petrosino, JF, Balogh, E
JournalSci Total Environ
Date Published12/2016
KeywordsAgricultural Irrigation, Agriculture, Food Contamination, Mercury, Methylmercury Compounds, Microbiota, Oryza, RNA, Ribosomal, 16S, Soil, Soil Microbiology, Soil Pollutants

Rice farmers are pressured to grow rice using less water. The impacts of water-saving rice cultivation methods on rice methylmercury concentrations are uncertain. Rice (Oryza sativa L. cv. Nipponbare) was cultivated in fields using four water management treatments, including flooded (no dry-downs), alternating wetting and drying (AWD) (with one or three dry-downs), and furrow-irrigated fields (nine dry-downs) (n=16 fields). Anoxic bulk soil was collected from rice roots during the rice maturation phase, and rice grain was harvested after fields were dried. Total mercury and methylmercury concentrations were determined in soil and polished rice samples, and the soil microbiome was analyzed using 16S (v4) rRNA gene profiling. Soil total mercury did not differ between fields. However, compared to continuously flooded fields, soil and rice methylmercury concentrations averaged 51% and 38% lower in the AWD fields, respectively, and 95% and 96% lower in the furrow-irrigated fields, respectively. Compared to flooded fields, grain yield was reduced on average by <1% in the AWD fields and 34% in the furrow-irrigated fields. Additionally, using 16S (v4) rRNA gene profiling, the relative abundance of genera (i.e., highest resolution via this method) known to contain mercury methylators averaged 2.9-fold higher in flooded and AWD fields compared to furrow-irrigated fields. These results reinforce the benefits of AWD in reducing rice methylmercury concentrations with minimal changes in rice production yields. In the furrow-irrigated fields, a lower relative abundance of genera known to contain mercury methylators suggests an association between lower concentrations of soil and rice methylmercury and specific soil microbiomes.

Alternate JournalSci. Total Environ.
PubMed ID27450246
PubMed Central IDPMC5099098
Grant ListL30 ES023165 / ES / NIEHS NIH HHS / United States
R15 ES022409 / ES / NIEHS NIH HHS / United States