The preliminary evaluation of differential characteristics and factor evaluation of the microbial structure of rural household toilet excrement in China
Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 2021 Apr 10. doi: 10.1007/s11356-021-13779-9. Online ahead of print.
Recent studies on the microbial community composition of human excrement after rural household toilet treatment are unclear regarding the effects and risks of using recycled products as fertilizers in agriculture. In this study, we used Illumina high-throughput sequencing to investigate the microbial community structure of the excrement from 50 Chinese rural household toilets on a spatial scale, and we evaluated the impact of select geochemical factors on the bacterial and fungal communities in the human excrement. Multivariate analysis showed that there was a significant spatial differentiation of the human excrement in microbial communities after all toilet treatments. Twenty dry toilet samples and thirty septic tank samples had similar bacterial (Firmicutes, Proteobacteria, Actinobacteria, and Bacteroidetes) and fungal phyla (Ascomycota and Basidiomycota), differing only in the proportions of the microorganisms. For both dry toilet samples and septic tank samples, the pH and ammonium nitrogen were found to be the major driving forces affecting the changes in bacterial community structures (p<0.05), while there was no correlation found for the fungal community with environmental factors in China (p>0.05), except in the northern regions, where the total phosphorus was found to be significantly correlated with the fungal community (p<0.05). Network analysis confirmed that NH4+-N had the most significant impact on the content of pathogens. Certain pathogens were still detected after toilet treatment, such as Streptococcus, Bacteroides, Aspergillus, and Chrysosporium, and the proportion of potential pathogenic bacteria in dry toilets was higher than that in septic tanks, suggesting that septic tanks were better than dry toilets in treating human excrement. These results provide an ecological perspective for understanding the large-scale geographic distribution of household excrement microbial communities in rural areas and for improving human excrement treatment technologies and avoiding the risks of agricultural applications.