Pesticides decrease bacterial diversity and abundance of irrigated rice fields

Michael Onwona‐Kwakye, Kimberly Plants‐paris, Kadiatou Keita, Jessica Lee, Paul J. van den Brink, Jonathan N. Hogarh, Charles Darkoh*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


Bacteria play an important role in soil ecosystems and their activities are crucial in nutrient composition and recycling. Pesticides are extensively used in agriculture to control pests and improve yield. However, increased use of pesticides on agricultural lands results in soil contamination, which could have adverse effect on its bacterial communities. Here, we investigated the effect of pesticides commonly used on irrigated rice fields on bacterial abundance and diversity. Irrigated soil samples collected from unexposed, pesticide‐exposed, and residual exposure areas were cultured under aerobic and anaerobic conditions. DNA was extracted and analysed by 16S rRNA sequencing. The results showed overall decrease in bacterial abundance and diversity in areas exposed to pesticides. Operational taxonomic units of the genera Enterobacter, Aeromonas, Comamonas, Stenotrophomonas, Bordetella, and Staphylococcus decreased in areas exposed to pesticides. Conversely, Domibacillus, Acinetobacter, Pseudomonas, and Bacillus increased in abundance in pesticide‐exposed areas. Simpson and Shannon diversity indices and canonical correspondence analysis demonstrated a decrease in bacterial diversity and composition in areas exposed to pesticides. These results suggest bacteria genera unaffected by pesticides that could be further evaluated to identify species for bioremediation. Moreover, there is a need for alternative ways of improving agricultural productivity and to educate farmers to adopt innovative integrated pest management strategies to reduce deleterious impacts of pesticides on soil ecosystems.

Original languageEnglish
Article number318
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 25 Feb 2020


  • Irrigated fields
  • Pesticides
  • Pesticides and bacteria
  • Soil bacteria
  • Soil microbiota and diversity


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