Journal article
Decomposition of carbon-14-labelled wheat straw in repeatedly fumigated and non-fumigated soils with different levels of heavy metal contamination

Publication Details
Chander, K.; Klein, T.; Eberhardt, U.; Jörgensen, R.
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Biology and Fertility of Soils
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We analysed the decomposition of C-14-labelled straw at five different levels of heavy metal contamination (100-20.000 mug total Zn g(-1) soil) in non-fumigated and repeatedly fumigated soils. The soils were not spiked with Zn, but were taken from sites containing different heavy metal concentrations. Zn was only used as a reference and the effects observed are most likely due to this metal. Microbial biomass decreased with increasing heavy metal content of soils, paralleled generally by the decreasing amount of wheat straw C-14 incorporated into the microbial biomass, In addition, the newly synthesised microbial biomass declined more rapidly as the incubation proceeded. In the repeatedly fumigated soils, microbial biomass C-14 corresponded to roughly 50% of the maximum C-14 incorporation of the non-fumigated soil. The relative decline during incubation was similar to that of the non-fumigated soil at the respective contamination level. These results reveal clearly that heavy metal effects on straw decomposition do not depend on the ratio of substrate C to microbial biomass C. In contrast to microbial biomass C, the mineralisation of the wheat straw was not seriously affected by heavy metal contamination. The same was true for all of the repeatedly fumigated treatments, where a much smaller microbial biomass mineralised nearly the same amount of straw as in the non-fumigated soils. However, repeated fumigation caused a strong reduction in the decomposition of soil organic matter. The ratio of CO2-C-14 to Microbial biomass C-14 after 60 days was linearly related to the Zn concentration in both non-fumigated and repeatedly fumigated samples. clearly indicating that an additional energy cost is required by soil microorganisms with increasing heavy metal concentrations.

Last updated on 2019-01-11 at 16:04