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Bacterial diversity rather than available Cd is the main driver of exoenzyme activity and stoichiometry after soil amendments in mildly contaminated soil

Abstract

Purpose

Microbial exoenzyme activity (EEA) and stoichiometry (EES) are of great significance to soil health through their influence on carbon (C), nitrogen (N), and phosphorus (P) cycling. However, when agricultural soil is contaminated by cadmium (Cd), the underlying mechanisms and effects on EEA and EES are still poorly understood.

Materials and methods

Here, we examine the effect of different remediation treatments (no amendment, 0.3% lime application, and 1.0% biochar application) on EEA and EES and the driving factors in a Cd-contaminated Brassica napus soil.

Results and discussion

The activities of a C-acquiring enzyme (β-1,4-glucosidase), N-acquiring enzymes (β-N-acetyl-glucosaminidase, leucine aminopeptidase, urease, and protease), and a P-acquiring enzyme (acid phosphatase), together with related environmental factors (soil pH and different Cd fractions), substrate factors (soil organic C, total N, and P content), and biotic factors (bacterial diversity and community composition) were analyzed. We found that lime and biochar amendments both significantly reduced EEA (normalized by the microbial biomass C), indicating lower microbial investment in exoenzyme production after remediation. Only lime amendment resulted in greater exoenzyme C:P and N:P ratios, and biochar application did not significantly affect EES. Among all the factors, the relative abundance of Acidobacteria and the bacterial Chao index, rather than available Cd content, accounted for the largest variations in soil EEA and EES, respectively. Additionally, the shoot Cd significantly decreased while the N and P content significantly increased after lime and biochar amendments. The higher shoot N content significantly associated with lower EEA and EES, suggesting that the rapeseed might modulate the microbial community and then the function based on nutrient status.

Conclusions

Our results suggest that lime and biochar applications in mild Cd-contaminated soil tend to affect extracellular enzymes indirectly by mediating bacterial diversity, which may also be modulated by plant nutrient status. These results will provide useful information for Cd remediation and maintaining the sustainability of soil ecosystem services.

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Data availability

The datasets used or analyzed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.

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Acknowledgements

We are grateful to Jihai Shao and Yuexi Jiang for their experimental assistance.

Funding

This work was supported by the National Key Research & Development Program of China (2018YFD0800700) and the National Science Foundation of China (41671475).

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Xinqi Wang and Ming Lei designed research; Xinqi Wang, Xiuwen Wu, Beibei Zhang, and Zhuoqing Li performed research; Xinqi Wang and Xiuwen Wu analyzed data, and Xinqi Wang, Xiuwen Wu, Huihui Du, Boqing Tie, and Ming Lei wrote the paper.

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Correspondence to Ming Lei.

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Wang, X., Wu, X., Zhang, B. et al. Bacterial diversity rather than available Cd is the main driver of exoenzyme activity and stoichiometry after soil amendments in mildly contaminated soil. J Soils Sediments (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11368-021-03085-9

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Keywords

  • Ecological stoichiometry
  • Heavy metal remediation
  • Lime
  • Biochar