Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 21, Issue 5, pp 3254–3263 | Cite as

Comparative tolerance of Pinus radiata and microbial activity to copper and zinc in a soil treated with metal-amended biosolids

  • Paramsothy JeyakumarEmail author
  • Paripurnanda Loganathan
  • Christopher W. N. Anderson
  • Sivalingam Sivakumaran
  • Ronald G. McLaren
Research Article


A study was conducted to evaluate the effects of elevated concentrations of copper (Cu) and zinc (Zn) in a soil treated with biosolids previously spiked with these metals on Pinus radiata during a 312-day glasshouse pot trial. The total soil metal concentrations in the treatments were 16, 48, 146 and 232 mg Cu/kg or 36, 141, 430 and 668 mg Zn/kg. Increased total soil Cu concentration increased the soil solution Cu concentration (0.03–0.54 mg/L) but had no effect on leaf and root dry matter production. Increased total soil Zn concentration also increased the soil solution Zn concentration (0.9–362 mg/L). Decreased leaf and root dry matter were recorded above the total soil Zn concentration of 141 mg/kg (soil solution Zn concentration, >4.4 mg/L). A lower percentage of Cu in the soil soluble + exchangeable fraction (5–12 %) and lower Cu2+ concentration in soil solution (0.001–0.06 μM) relative to Zn (soil soluble + exchangeable fraction, 12–66 %; soil solution Zn2+ concentration, 4.5–4,419 μM) indicated lower bioavailability of Cu. Soil dehydrogenase activity decreased with every successive level of Cu and Zn applied, but the reduction was higher for Zn than for Cu addition. Dehydrogenase activity was reduced by 40 % (EC40) at the total solution-phase and solid-phase soluble + exchangeable Cu concentrations of 0.5 mg/L and 14.5 mg/kg, respectively. For Zn the corresponding EC50 were 9 mg/L and 55 mg/kg, respectively. Based on our findings, we propose that current New Zealand soil guidelines values for Cu and Zn (100 mg/kg for Cu; 300 mg/kg for Zn) should be revised downwards based on apparent toxicity to soil biological activity (Cu and Zn) and radiata pine (Zn only) at the threshold concentration.


Bioavailability Bio accumulation factor Dehydrogenase activity EC50 Metal toxicity Radiata pine Rhizosphere Soil metal fractions 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paramsothy Jeyakumar
    • 1
    Email author
  • Paripurnanda Loganathan
    • 1
    • 2
  • Christopher W. N. Anderson
    • 1
  • Sivalingam Sivakumaran
    • 3
  • Ronald G. McLaren
    • 4
  1. 1.Soil and Earth Sciences, Institute of Agriculture and EnvironmentMassey UniversityPalmerston NorthNew Zealand
  2. 2.Faculty of EngineeringUniversity of TechnologySydneyAustralia
  3. 3.Sustainable Production-Soil Water Environment, Plant & Food ResearchPalmerston NorthNew Zealand
  4. 4.Soil and Physical Sciences Department, Agriculture and Life Sciences FacultyLincoln UniversityLincolnNew Zealand

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