Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 23, Issue 2, pp 1100–1107 | Cite as

An improved effective microorganism (EM) soil ball-making method for water quality restoration

  • Gun-Seok Park
  • Abdur Rahim Khan
  • Yunyoung Kwak
  • Sung-Jun Hong
  • ByungKwon Jung
  • Ihsan Ullah
  • Jong-Guk Kim
  • Jae-Ho ShinEmail author
Selected Papers from the 2nd Contaminated Land, Ecological Assessment and Remediation (CLEAR 2014) Conference: Environmental Pollution and Remediation


Soil balls containing the so-called effective microorganisms (EM) have been applied to improve water quality of small ponds, lakes, and streams worldwide. However, neither the physical conditions facilitating their proper application nor the diversity of microbial community in such soil balls have been investigated. In this study, the application of 0.75 % of hardener to the soil balls exerted almost neutral pH (pH 7.3) which caused up to a fourfold increased hardness of the soil ball. Moreover, the 0.75 % of hardener in the soil ball also improved the water quality due to a significant reduction in dissolved oxygen, total phosphorus, and total nitrogen contents. Metagenomic analysis of the microbial community in the soil ball with 0.75 % hardener was compared with control (traditional soil ball) through next-generation sequencing. The traditional soil ball microbial community comprised 96.1 % bacteria, 2.7 % eukaryota, and 1 % archaea, whereas the soil ball with 0.75 % hardener comprised 71.4 % bacteria, 27.9 % eukaryota, and 0.2 % viruses. Additionally, metagenomic profiles for both traditional and improved soil balls revealed that the various xenobiotic biodegradation, such as those for caprolactam, atrazine, xylene, toluene, styrene, bisphenol, and chlorocyclohexane might be responsible for organic waste cleanup.


Biodegradation Effective microorganisms Metagenome Microbial community Soil ball Water quality 



This research was sponsored by the Korea Ministry of Environment as the Eco-Innovation project.

Compliance with ethical standards

The present research did not involve human participants and/or animals.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no potential conflicts of interest.

Supplementary material

11356_2015_5617_Fig5_ESM.jpg (134 kb)
Fig. A1

Soil ball dissociation in water tank after 7 days in controlled flow. a Soil ball containing 0 % (w/w) 3CaO∙SiO2 and b soil ball containing 0.75 % (w/w) 3CaO∙SiO2. (JPEG 134 kb)

11356_2015_5617_Fig6_ESM.jpg (251 kb)
Fig. A2

The shape of soil balls. a Soil ball making with loess and b soil ball making with send and zeolite. (JPEG 250 kb)

11356_2015_5617_Fig7_ESM.jpg (70 kb)
Fig. A3

Composition of microbial community pie charts of soil balls. a Traditional soil ball. b Improved soil ball with 0.5 % hardener. c Improved soil ball with 0.75 % hardener. (JPEG 70 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Applied BioscienceKyungpook National UniversityDaeguRepublic of Korea
  2. 2.Institute of Biotechnology and Genetic EngineeringThe University of AgriculturePeshawarPakistan
  3. 3.School of Life Sciences and BiotechnologyKyungpook National UniversityDaeguRepublic of Korea

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