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Volume 270, 2021, 128625

Application of biochar in estrogen hormone-contaminated and manure-affected soils: Impact on soil respiration, microbial community and enzyme activity

Zhuo Weia, Jim J.Wanga, Lisa M.Fultza, Paul Whiteb, Changyoon Jeongc

School of Plant, Environment & Soil Sciences, Louisiana State University Agcenter, Baton Rouge, LA, 70803, United States.


Biochar as a soil amendment has been proposed for enhancing carbon sequestration and manure-borne hormone contaminant remediation. However, little is known about the ecological risk of biochar application in the soil with hormone contamination. This study investigated the influence of biochar in three manure-impacted soils contaminated with estrogen hormones, natural estrogen 17β-estradiol and synthesized estrogen 17α-ethinylestradiol in a microcosm experiment. Specifically, microbial respiration was periodically determined during microcosm incubation while microbial community phospholipid fatty acids and activities of nutrient (C, N, P, S) cycling related enzymes (β-glucosidase, urease, phosphodiesterase, arylsulfatase) were characterized after the incubation. Results showed that the manure-impacted soils with high SOC generally had greater total microbial biomass, ratios of fungi/bacteria and Gram-positive bacteria/Gram-negative bacteria, and phosphodiesterase activity, but lower urease activity. Additionally, hormones stimulated microbial respiration and biomass, while had little impact on activity of the enzymes. On the other hand, biochar showed negative priming effect by significantly decreasing total microbial biomass by 8.7%–26.4%, CO2 production by 16.6%–33.5%, and glucosidase activity by 27.1%–41.0% in the three soils. Biochar significantly increased the activity of phosphodiesterase, showed no impact on arylsulfatase, while decreased the activity of urease. Overall, the study suggests that when used in hormone remediation in manure-impact soils, biochar could improve phosphodiesterase activity, but may decrease soil microbial activity and the activity of soil glucosidase and urease.

Keywords: Manure-impact soil, Estrogen, Hormones, Biochar, Microbial community, Soil enzyme.

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