, Volume 368, Issue 1–3, pp 231–235 | Cite as

Enzyme activities in constructed wetlands: Implication for water quality amelioration

  • Hojeong Kang
  • Chris Freeman
  • Dowon Lee
  • William J. Mitsch


Wetlands have been widely applied for water quality amelioration. Enzymatic analysis was applied in a study of decomposition in constructed wetlands. We hypothesise that soil enzyme activities would be lower in wetland sediment than adjacent upland and that the lower soil enzyme activities are partly responsible for the water quality amelioration. Four soil enzyme activities (β-glucosidase, β-N-acetylglucosaminidase, phosphatase, and arylsulfatase) and microbial activity (electron transport system activity) were measured across a transect from a upland soil to a wetland sediment in two constructed wetland sites in the USA. Along with the activities, hydrochemistry was determined in inflow and outflow of the wetlands. In both wetlands, the enzyme activities in the sediments were significantly lower than the adjacent upland soils. For hydrochemistry, significant decreases were observed in phosphate and nitrate concentrations in outflow water compared to inflow water. However, there were no significant changes in other anions (F-, Cl-, SO42- . For dissolved organic carbon, it seems that the wetlands would be a source rather than a sink. The results suggest that the enzymatic approach represents a valuable method to assess decomposition processes in wetland sediments, and that characteristically low enzyme activities in the sediments may be important in the water quality amelioration function.

constructed wetlands soil enzymes microbial activity water quality 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Brinson, M. M., A. E. Lugo & S. Brown, 1981. Primary productivity, decomposition and consumer activity in freshwater wetlands. Annu. Rev. Ecol. Syst. 12: 123–161.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Brinson, M. M., 1977. Decomposition and nutrient exchange of litter in an alluvial swamp forest. Ecology 58: 601–60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Burns R. G., 1978. Soil Enzymes. Academic press, NY.Google Scholar
  4. Clymo, R. S. & E. J. F. Reddaway, 1971. Productivity of Sphagnum (bog-moss) and peat accumulation. Hydrobiologia 12: 181–192.Google Scholar
  5. Corbitt, R. A. & P. Bowen, 1994. Constructed wetlands for wastewater treatment. In D. M. Kent (ed.), Applied Wetlands Sciences and Technology. Lewis Publishers, Boca Raton, Florida.Google Scholar
  6. DeVito, K. J., P. J. Dillon & B. D. Lazerte, 1989. Phosphorus and nitrogen retention in five Precambrian shield wetlands. Biogeochemistry 8: 185–204.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Freeman, C., G. Liska, N. J. Ostle, S. E. Jones & M. A. Lock, 1995. The use of fluorogenic substrates for measuring enzyme activity in peatlands. Plant Soil 175: 147–152.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Freeman, C., G. Liska, N. J. Ostle, M. A. Lock, B. Reynolds & J. Hudson, 1996. Microbial activity and enzymic decomposition processes following peatland water table drawdown. Plant Soil 180: 121–127.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Freeman, C.,M. A. Lock & B. Reynolds, 1993. Climatic change and the release of immobilized nutrients from Welsh riparian wetland soils. Ecol. Eng. 2: 367–373.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Gersberg, R. M., B. V. Elkins, C. R. Goldman, 1983. Nitrogen removal in artificial wetlands. Wat. Res. 17: 1009–1014.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Hynes, H. B. N., 1969. The enrichment of streams, In Eutrophication; Causes, Consequences and Correctives. National Academy of Sciences, Washington DC: 188–196.Google Scholar
  12. Jackson, C. R., C.M. Foreman & R. L. Sinsabaugh, 1995. Microbial enzyme activities as indicators of organic matter processing rates in a lake Erie coastal wetland. Freshwat. Biol. 34: 329–342.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Mitsch, W. J., 1996. Olentangy river wetland research park at the Ohio state university, annual report 1996. School of natural resources, the Ohio State University, Ohio, USA.Google Scholar
  14. Mitsch, W. J., J. K. Cronk, X. Wu & R.W. Nairn, 1995. Phosphorus retention in constructed freshwater riparian marshes. Ecol. Appl. 5: 830–845.Google Scholar
  15. Mitsch, W. J., 1992. Landscape design and the role of created restored and natural wetlands in controlling non-point source pollution. Ecol. Eng. 1: 27–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Pind, A., C. Freeman & M. A. Lock, 1994 Enzyme degradation of phenolic material in peatlands – measurement of phenol oxidase activity. Plant Soil 159: 227–231.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Pulford, I. D. & M. A. Tabatabai, 1988. Effect of waterlogging on enzyme activities in soils. Soil Biol. Biochem. 20: 215–219.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Sinsabaugh, R. L., R. K. Antibus, A. E. Linkins, C. A.-McClaugherty, L. Rayburn, D. Repert & T. Weiland, 1993.Wood decomposition: Nitrogen and phosphorus dynamics in relation to extracellular enzyme activity. Ecology 74: 1586–1593.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Schultz, R. C., J. P. Colletti, T. M. Isenhart, W. W. Simpkins, C. W. Mize & M. L. Thompson, 1995. Design and placement of a multi-species riparian buffer strip system. Agroforest. Syst. 29: 201–226.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Trevors, J. T., C. I. Mayfield & W. E. Inniss, 1982. Measurement of Electron Transport System (ETS) activity in soil. Microbial Ecol. 8: 163–168.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. van der Valk, A. G., J. M. Rhymer & H. R. Murkin, 1991. Flooding and the decomposition of litter of four emergent plant species in a prairie wetland. Wetlands 11: 1–16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hojeong Kang
    • 1
  • Chris Freeman
    • 1
  • Dowon Lee
    • 2
  • William J. Mitsch
    • 3
  1. 1.School of Biological SciencesUniversity of WalesBangorU.K
  2. 2.Seoul National UniversitySeoulKorea
  3. 3.School of Natural ResourcesOhio State UniversityU.S.A

Personalised recommendations