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Journal of Soils and Sediments

, Volume 20, Issue 1, pp 181–189 | Cite as

Biogeochemical responses of soil ecosystems to raw coal pollution in Xuanhua, China

  • Yu Liu
  • Wu XiangEmail author
  • Jie Zhu
  • Xiu-Zhi Zhang
  • Xu-Dong Xing
  • Wei-Lin Yang
Soils, Sec 2 • Global Change, Environ Risk Assess, Sustainable Land Use • Research Article
  • 102 Downloads

Abstract

Purpose

China is the world’s largest coal producer and consumer. Despite extensive studies on coal-burning pollution, the effect of raw coal pollutants caused by transportation and turnover on soil along the road received little attention. The main purpose of the study was to clarify the biogeochemical response of soil ecosystems to raw coal pollution.

Materials and methods

The raw coal and unpolluted soil from the coal distribution area in Xuanhua, China were collected for the incubation experiments. Combined with the determination of soil physicochemical properties, including pH, electric conductivity, soluble ions, dissolved organic carbon, and available heavy metals, the biogeochemical responses of soil to raw coal pollution, such as soil enzyme activities (β-glucosidase, alkaline phosphatase, and Urease), microbial community composition, and soil respiration, were systematically studied. In addition, a q-PCR analysis of the urease was performed to clarify the inhibitory mechanism of urease by coal pollution. Furthermore, a simple field investigation was carried out to confirm the incubation results.

Results and discussion

Raw coal pollution not only changed the soil physicochemical properties but also made the available Zn, Ni, and Co accumulate significantly. A positive priming effect in soil with the low-dose raw coal addition was trigged, but soil respiration rate and soil enzyme activity, such as β-glucosidase and alkaline phosphatase, were inhibited to different degrees with the increased pollution. Urease activity also decreased under the higher coal contamination, which was due to inhibition of ureC gene expression. In addition to the slight soil acidification caused by coal pollution, microbial communities and diversity was also found to be affected. The relative abundances of the microorganisms related to urease, alkaline phosphatase, and β-glucosidase changed accordingly. The incubation results are in good agreement with the field survey results.

Conclusions

Low-dose raw coal pollution can trigger the soil positive priming effect. However, as the coal pollution increased, the β-glucosidase, alkaline phosphatase, and urease in the soil were inhibited to varying degrees. The compounding effects of soil acidification, increased electric conductivity, and the accumulation of available heavy metals such as Zn, Ni, and Co are the key causes for the biogeochemical response of soil to coal pollution.

Keywords

Enzyme activities Heavy metal Incubation Microbial communities Raw coal Soil 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We also give our thanks to professor Ping Li for the valuable suggestions.

Funding information

The research was funded by the Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC 41472316), the Hebei Provincial Department of Finance (2121299), and the Hunan Provincial Key Laboratory for Evaluation and Utilization of Land Resources (SYS-ZX-201802) and the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central University (CUG170104).

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Earth SciencesChina University of GeosciencesWuhanChina
  2. 2.Hebei Institute of Geological SurveyShijiazhuangChina
  3. 3.Hunan Key Laboratory of Land Resources Evaluation and UtilizationChangshaChina

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