The microbial profile of rivers and lagoons three years after the impact of the world's largest mining disaster (Fundão dam, Brazil) Journal Articles uri icon

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  • The collapse of the Fundão tailings dam (Minas Gerais, Brazil) was the largest environmental disaster in Brazil's history and in the world mining industry. This disaster carried approximately 55 million m3 of iron ore tailings along the rivers and the lagoons of the Doce river basin. Although multiple studies assessed the impact on microbial communities in those rivers and lagoons right after the dam rupture, it is not known whether the microbiome in those environments remains impacted years after the disaster. Assessing the microbiome is very important to evaluate impacts and evaluate the health of the environment, due to the several ecological roles played by microorganisms. Here, we evaluated the impact of the dam failure on water and sediment bacteriome and archaeome by high-throughput next-generation sequencing. Samples were taken from two rivers and six lagoons during the dry and rainy seasons approximately three years post disturbance. The results showed a large number and abundance of microbial groups associated with the presence of heavy metals and mine tailings sediments. Some of these microorganisms were also reported in large abundance in the impacted rivers shortly after the Fundão dam rupture. Among the most abundant microorganisms in the Doce River, we can highlight the bacteria hgcI clade and the archaea Nitrososphera sp. in the water, and the bacteria Anaerolineaceae sp. in the sediment. These results suggest that the microbiome of the rivers and the lagoons in the Doce river basin remains severely impacted by the Fundão tailings dam failure even three years after the disaster. The presence of those microorganisms can also help to assess the occurrence of the Fundão dam sediment in other environments.


  • Almeida, Pedro Ivo Neves de
  • Jesus, Hugo Emiliano de
  • Pereira, Pedro Henrique Freitas
  • Vieira, Carlos Eduardo Delfino
  • Bianchini, Adalto
  • Martins, Camila De Martinez Gaspar
  • Santos, Henrique Fragoso dos

publication date

  • January 2023