A Review on Impact of E-waste on Soil Microbial Community and Ecosystem Function

Document Type: Original Research Paper


Amity Institute of Microbial Technology, Amity University, Sector 125 Noida, Uttar Pradesh, India


The ever increasing pile-up of electronic waste in dumping sites, especially in developing countries such as China, Pakistan, India and several African countries, might have caused a significant alteration in the microbial community of the contaminated sites. This change in the microbial population may have significant impact to the soil ecology function. The major pollutants of electronic waste are heavy metals like cadmium, lead, nickel, mercury, hexavalent chromium, arsenic and persistent organic pollutants like polychlorinated biphenyls and polybrominated diphenyl ethers. In general, the toxic pollutants reduce the normal soil microbial biota but give rise to increase in the heavy metal resistant and organic pollutants remediating microbes. With the development of culture- independent approach as a tool for studying microbial diversity, the microbial community structures in toxic waste contaminated sites have been revealed gradually. Studies on the microbial community structure of electronic waste contaminated sites show that there are significant differences between the contaminated and the non-contaminated sites. Soil pH in the e-waste contaminated sites of various regions has been reported in a wide range varying from pH 4 to pH 12. However, the predominant phyla so far identified in the electronic waste contaminated sites, based on studies through culture independent approach, are Firmicutes, Proteobacteria, Actinobacteria, Acidobacteria, Chloroflexi, Crenarchaeota and Bacteroidetes accounting for more than 80% of the total sequence reads on an average. The genera like Pseudomonas, Bacillus, Clostridium, Rhodococcus, Achromobacter and many unclassified bacteria are the common types in the contaminated sites.


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