Tropical cyclone effects on water and sediment chemistry and the microbial community in estuarine ecosystems

Shan Huang, Arianna Sherman, Chen Chen, Peter R. Jaffé

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Frequent and intense storm disturbances can have widespread and strong effects on the nitrogen and iron cycles and their associated microbial communities in estuary systems. A three-year investigation was conducted in the Pearl River and Zhanjiang estuaries in Guangdong Province, China through repeated sampling at three timepoints, defined as pre-storm (<1 month before storm), post-storm (<1 month after storm), and non-storm (6–8 months after storm). Increased nutrient concentrations (total organic carbon, nitrate, nitrite, ammonium, and sulfate) in both the sediment and water column were observed immediately after storm. The microbial community experienced extensive and immediate changes determined by an observed composition shift in the nitrogen and iron-cycling microbiomes. Analysis of sediment samples displayed a shift from nitrogen-to sulfur-cycling microorganisms and an increase in microbial interactions that were not observed in the water column. The chemical profile and microbial community components both returned to baseline conditions 6–8 months following storm disturbance. Finally, significant correlations were found between chemical and microbial data, suggesting that niche-sharing microbes may respond similarly to stimuli that impact their ecosystem. Increases in nutrient availability can favor the abundance of specific taxa, as demonstrated by an increase in Acidimicrobium that affect both nitrogen and iron cycling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number117228
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
StatePublished - Oct 1 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
  • Toxicology


  • Functional genes
  • Microbial co-occurrence networks
  • Microbial community
  • Nitrogen (N) and iron (Fe) cycles
  • Sediment and water column
  • Storm disturbance


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