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Soil organic matter and biological activity under long-term contamination with copper

Abstract

Organic matter (OM) and enzymes activity can act as indicators of the time and level of soil contamination with heavy metal. The goal of this study is evaluation of the effect of chronic long-term soil contamination with Cu on OM and biological activity in Spolic Technosols. The monitoring plot is located in the zone of industrial wastewater storage and sludge reservoirs in the Seversky Donets River flood plain. The total amount of Cu in the investigated soils varied greatly from 52 to 437 mg/kg. The results of Cu sequential fractionation the contaminated soil have shown that the chemical fraction composition of metal changed when the soil contamination level increased. The amount of Cu compounds associated with OM and Fe and Mn oxides was also higher. Fractions of OM from the humic and fulvic acids groups were studied. Soil was subjected to extraction with cold and hot water, and the content of water-soluble OM (WSOM) was determined. An increased solubility of humic and fulvic acids as well as elevated content of cold and hot extraction WSOM was established. The cold-extracted amount of WSOM increased with an enhance in the Cu content. The long-term contamination of soil with Cu leads to an adaptation of microorganisms to this adverse environmental factor, and this adaptation is manifested in the WSOM content increase. The effect of Cu contamination on microbiological activity was assessed by plate-counting culturable microorganisms and determining urease and dehydrogenase enzymatic activity. A high level of soil contamination with Cu showed a noticeable negative effect on the number of soil bacteria; however, active and potentially active bacteria were observed even in the highly contaminated soils. The changes in soil OM and microbial communities caused by Cu pollution can lead to disruption of ecosystem functioning.

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Data availability

The raw/processed data required to reproduce these findings cannot be shared at this time as the data also forms part of an ongoing study.

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Acknowledgements

The study was funded by the Russian Science Foundation, Project No. 20-14-00317.

Funding

The Russian Science Foundation funded this study by the Project No. 20-14-00317.

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IVZ and AVG were involved in data curation, formal analysis, methodology, investigation, conceptualization, supervision, visualization, writing—original draft preparation—review & editing; TM helped in conceptualization, supervision, writing—review & editing; SM contributed to supervision, formal analysis, methodology, writing—review & editing; MVB and TB were involved in investigation, data curation, visualization, formal analysis.

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Correspondence to Inna V. Zamulina.

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Zamulina, I.V., Gorovtsov, A.V., Minkina, T.M. et al. Soil organic matter and biological activity under long-term contamination with copper. Environ Geochem Health (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10653-021-01044-4

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Keywords

  • Contaminated soil
  • Dehydrogenase
  • Urease
  • Humic and fulvic acids
  • Fractional composition of organic matter
  • Sequential fractionation of Cu