As a toxic element, excessive amounts of fluoride in environment can be harmful because of its antimicrobial activity, however little is known about the relationship between fluoride and the bacterial community in groundwater systems. Here, we use samples from a typical fluorosis area to test the hypothesis that fluoride concentration is a fundamental structuring factor for bacterial communities in groundwater. Thirteen groundwater samples were collected; high-throughput 16S rRNA gene sequencing and statistical analysis were conducted to compare the bacterial community composition in individual wells. The results showed that Proteobacteria, with most relative abundance in groundwater, decreased along the groundwater fluoride concentration. Additionally, relative abundances of 12 families were also statistically correlated with fluoride concentration. The bacterial community was significantly explained by TOC (P = 0.045) and fluoride concentration (P = 0.007) of groundwater. This suggests that fluoride and TOC likely plays an important role in shaping the microbial community structure in these groundwater systems. Our research suggest that fluoride concentration should be taken into consideration in future when evaluating microbial response to environmental conditions in groundwater system, especially for fluoride rich groundwater.

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