Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 25, Issue 11, pp 10937–10945 | Cite as

Biochar alleviates the toxicity of imidacloprid and silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) to Enchytraeus albidus (Oligochaeta)

  • Ngitheni Winnie-Kate Nyoka
  • Sthandiwe Nomthandazo Kanyile
  • Emile Bredenhand
  • Godfried Jacob Prinsloo
  • Patricks Voua Otomo
Research Article


The present study investigated the use of biochar for the alleviation of the toxic effects of a nanosilver colloidal dispersion and a chloronicotinyl insecticide. The survival and reproduction of the potworm Enchytraeus albidus were assessed after exposure to imidacloprid and silver nanoparticles (AgNPs). E. albidus was exposed to 0, 25, 50, 100, 200, and 400 mg imidacloprid/kg and 0, 5, 25, 125, and 625 mg Ag/kg for 21 days in 10% biochar amended and non-biochar amended OECD artificial soil. In both exposure substrates, the effects of imidacloprid on survival were significant in the two highest treatments (p < 0.01). No biochar effect was observed as survival was statistically similar in both soils after exposure to imidacloprid. In the case of AgNPs, significant mortality was only observed in the highest AgNP treatments in both the amended and non-amended soils (p < 0.05). Nevertheless, statistically greater survival occurred in the biochar-amended treatment (p < 0.05). Reproduction results showed a more pronounced biochar effect with an EC50 = 22.27 mg imidacloprid/kg in the non-amended soil and a higher EC50 = 46.23 mg imidacloprid/kg in the biochar-amended soil. This indicated a 2-fold decrease in imidacloprid toxicity due to biochar amendment. A similar observation was made in the case of AgNPs where a reproduction EC50 = 166.70 mg Ag/kg soil in the non-amended soil increased to an EC50 > 625 mg Ag/kg soil (the highest AgNP treatment) in the amended soil. This indicated at least a 3.7-fold decrease in AgNPs toxicity due to biochar amendment. Although more studies may be needed to optimize the easing effects of biochar on the toxicity of these chemicals, the present results show that biochar could be useful for the alleviation of the toxic effects of imidacloprid and silver nanoparticles in the soil.


Oligochaetes Nanotoxicity Metal nanomaterials Soil remediation Agrochemicals 

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Zoology and EntomologyUniversity of the Free StatePhuthaditjhabaRepublic of South Africa
  2. 2.Department of Crop ProtectionAgriculture Research Council—Small Grain InstituteBethlehemRepublic of South Africa

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