Alteration of enzyme activities and functional diversity of a soil contaminated with copper and arsenic

Aponte, Humberto; Wence, Herrera; Cameron, Clare; Black, Helaina; Meier, Sebastian; Paolini, Jorge; Tapia, Yasna.; Cornejo, Pablo

Keywords: Biochemical properties, Heavy metals, metal(loid)s, Toxic elements, Physiological profile Ecotoxicology


Copper (Cu) mining has to address a critical environmental issue related to the disposal of heavy metals and metalloids (HMs). Due to their deleterious effects on living organisms, Cu and arsenic (As) have gained global attention, and thus their monitoring in the environment is an important task. The aims of this study were: 1) to evaluate the alteration of soil enzyme activities (EAs) and soil microbial functional diversity with Cu/As contamination, and 2) to select the most reliable biochemical indicators of Cu/As contamination. A twelve-week soil experiment was performed with four increasing levels of Cu, As, and Cu/As from 150/15 to 1000/100 mg Cu/As kg-1. Soil enzyme activities and soil community-level physiological profile (CLPP) using MicroResp™ were measured during the experiment. Results showed reduced EAs over time with increasing Cu and Cu/As levels. The most Cu-sensitive EAs were dehydrogenase, acid phosphatase, and arylsulfatase, while arginine ammonification might be related to the resilience of soil microbial communities due to its increased activity in the last experimental times. There was no consistent response to As contamination with reduced individual EAs at specific sampling times, being urease the only EA negatively affected by As. MicroResp™ showed reduced carbon (C) substrate utilization with increasing Cu levels indicating a community shift in C acquisition. These results support the use of specific EAs to assess the environmental impact of specific HMs, being also the first assessment of EAs and the use of CLPP (MicroResp™) to study the environmental impact in Cu/As contaminated soils.

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Título de la Revista: Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety
Volumen: 192
Fecha de publicación: 2020
Idioma: Inglés

DOI: 10.1016/j.ecoenv.2020.110264