Reconditioning Degraded Mine Site Soils With Exogenous Soil Microbes: Plant Fitness and Soil Microbiome Outcomes

Benjamin Moreira-Grez, Miriam Munoz-Rojas, Khalil Kariman, Paul Storer, Anthony G. O'Donnell, Deepak Kumaresan, Andrew S. Whiteley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Citations (Web of Science)


Mining of mineral resources substantially alters both the above and below-ground soil ecosystem, which then requires rehabilitation back to a pre-mining state. For belowground rehabilitation, recovery of the soil microbiome to a state which can support key biogeochemical cycles, and effective plant colonization is usually required. One solution proposed has been to translate microbial inocula from agricultural systems to mine rehabilitation scenarios, as a means of reconditioning the soil microbiome for planting. Here, we experimentally determine both the aboveground plant fitness outcomes and belowground soil microbiome effects of a commercially available soil microbial inocula (SMI). We analyzed treatment effects at four levels of complexity; no SMI addition control, Nitrogen addition alone, SMI addition and SMI plus Nitrogen addition over a 12-week period. Our culture independent analyses indicated that SMIs had a differential response over the 12-week incubation period, where only a small number of the consortium members persisted in the semi-arid ecosystem, and generated variable plant fitness responses, likely due to plant-microbiome physiological mismatching and low survival rates of many of the SMI constituents. We suggest that new developments in custom-made SMIs to increase rehabilitation success in mine site restoration are required, primarily based upon the need for SMIs to be ecologically adapted to both the prevailing edaphic conditions and a wide range of plant species likely to be encountered.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1617
Number of pages13
JournalFrontiers in Microbiology
Issue numberJULY
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jul 2019


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