Abstract Background Karst caves are considered as extreme environments with nutrition deficiency, darkness, and oxygen deprivation, and they are also the sources of biodiversity and metabolic pathways. Microorganisms are usually involved in the formation and maintenance of the cave system through various metabolic activities, and are indicators of changes environment influenced by human. Zhijin cave is a typical Karst cave and attracts tourists in China. However, the bacterial diversity and composition of the Karst cave are still unclear. The present study aims to reveal the bacterial diversity and composition in the cave and the potential impact of tourism activities, and better understand the roles and co-occurrence pattern of the bacterial community in the extreme cave habitats. Results The bacterial community consisted of the major Proteobacteria, Actinobacteria, and Firmicutes, with Proteobacteria being the predominant phylum in the rock, soil, and stalactite samples. Compositions and specialized bacterial phyla of the bacterial communities were different among different sample types. The highest diversity index was found in the rock samples with a Shannon index of 4.71. Overall, Zhijin cave has relatively lower diversity than that in natural caves. The prediction of function showed that various enzymes, including ribulose-bisphosphate carboxylase, 4-hydroxybutyryl-CoA dehydratase, nitrogenase NifH, and Nitrite reductase, involved in carbon and nitrogen cycles were detected in Zhijin cave. Additionally, the modularity indices of all co-occurrence network were greater than 0.40 and the species interactions were complex across different sample types. Co-occurring positive interactions in the bacteria groups in different phyla were also observed. Conclusion These results uncovered that the oligotrophic Zhijin cave maintains the bacterial communities with the diverse metabolic pathways, interdependent and cooperative co-existence patterns. Moreover, as a hotspot for tourism, the composition and diversity of bacterial community are influenced by tourism activities. These afford new insights for further exploring the adaptation of bacteria to extreme environments and the conservation of cave ecosystem.
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