Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 25, Issue 31, pp 31307–31317 | Cite as

Microbial explanations for field-aged biochar mitigating greenhouse gas emissions during a rice-growing season

  • Zhen Wu
  • Xi Zhang
  • Yubing Dong
  • Xin Xu
  • Zhengqin XiongEmail author
Research Article


Knowledge about the impacts of fresh and field-aged biochar amendments on greenhouse gas (CH4, N2O) emissions is limited. A field experiment was initiated in 2012 to study the effects of fresh and field-aged biochar additions on CH4 and N2O emissions and the associated microbial activity during the entire rice-growing season in typical rice-wheat rotation system in Southeast China. CH4 and N2O fluxes were monitored, and the abundance of methanogen (mcrA), methanotrophy (pmoA), ammonia-oxidizing archaea (AOA), ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB), nitrite reductase (nirS, nirK), N2O reductase (nosZ), and potential soil enzyme activities related to CH4 and N2O were simultaneously measured throughout different rice developmental stages. There were three treatments: control (urea without biochar), fresh BC (urea with fresh biochar added in 2015), and aged BC (urea with 3-year field-aged biochar added in 2012). Results showed that field-aged biochar significantly decreased seasonal CH4 emissions by 16.8% in relation to the fresh biochar, though no significant differences were detected between biochars and control treatment. The structural equation model indicated that soil pH, microbial biomass carbon (MBC), pmoA, and mcrA were the main factors directly influenced by fresh and aged biochar amendments; aged biochar showed a negative effect while fresh biochar showed positive effects on CH4 fluxes. Both fresh and field-aged biochar obviously increased AOA and AOB abundances and reduced the (nirS+nirK)/nosZ ratio during the entire rice-growing season, although no significant effects were observed on seasonal N2O emissions. Therefore, biochar amendment produced long-term effects on total CH4 and N2O emissions through observed influences of soil pH and functional gene abundance.

The figure shows how fresh and field-aged biochar differentially affected CH4 production and oxidation and N2O production and reduction through related functional gene abundances. Blue arrows indicate suppressing while pink arrows indicate promoting effect.


Rice paddy Field-aged biochar CH4 N2Gene abundance 



We greatly thank two anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments and critical evaluation on this manuscript.

Funding information

This work was jointly supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (41471192) and Special Fund for Agro-Scientific Research in the Public Interest (201503106).

Supplementary material

11356_2018_3112_MOESM1_ESM.docx (55 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 54 kb)


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Copyright information

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

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zhen Wu
    • 1
  • Xi Zhang
    • 1
  • Yubing Dong
    • 1
  • Xin Xu
    • 1
  • Zhengqin Xiong
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Jiangsu Key Laboratory of Low Carbon Agriculture and GHGs Mitigation, College of Resources and Environmental SciencesNanjing Agricultural UniversityNanjingChina

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