Original Paper

Biology and Fertility of Soils

, Volume 34, Issue 4, pp 241-247

Different sources of heavy metals and their long-term effects on soil microbial properties

  • Krishan ChanderAffiliated withInstitute of Soil Science, Von-Siebold-Strasse 4, 37075 Göttingen, Germany
  • , Jens DyckmansAffiliated withInstitute of Soil Science and Forest Nutrition, Büsgenweg 2, 37077 Göttingen, Germany
  • , Rainer JoergensenAffiliated withDepartment of Soil Biology, University of Kassel, Nordbahnhofstrasse 1a, 37243 Witzenhausen, Germany
  • , Brunk MeyerAffiliated withInstitute of Soil Science, Von-Siebold-Strasse 4, 37075 Göttingen, Germany
  • , Markus RaubuchAffiliated withDepartment of Soil Biology, University of Kassel, Nordbahnhofstrasse 1a, 37243 Witzenhausen, Germany

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Abstract.

We analysed soils of Lower Saxony, Germany, variously contaminated with sewage sludge, sediment, and dump material from mining and factory residues, to assess the effects of different sources of heavy metals and different metal species (total, EDTA and NH4NO3 extractable) on activity (basal respiration), biomass (microbial C, adenylates) and community structure (ergosterol) of soil microorganisms in relation to important chemical soil properties. The contents of biomass C, adenylates and ergosterol did not necessarily decrease with increasing heavy metal content, reflecting the importance of other environmental factors, e.g. differences in C input. The biomass C/soil C ratio ranged from 0.19 to 2.10% and decreased in the order: sludge>sediment>dump contamination, in accordance with the increasing heavy metal load. The ergosterol/biomass C ratio, which in contrast increased in the orders/sludge<sediment<dump contamination, varied between 0.45% and 3.10% and was on average 1.09%, i.e. it was much higher than in uncontaminated soils, indicating a change in community structure towards fungi. This ergosterol/biomass C ratio was most markedly affected by the concentration of NH4NO3-extractable Pb. The adenylate energy charge, ranging from 0.49 to 0.79, was mainly affected by the three Cu species and showed a strong positive correlation with the metabolic quotient qCO2. The average ATP/biomass C ratio was 7.9 µmol g–1 biomass C. It was the only ratio that remained unaffected by any of the soil properties or heavy metal species.

Ergosterol Microbial biomass carbon ATP Adenylates Adenylate energy charge