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Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety
Vol. 143, 2017, Pages: 322-329

Inorganic phosphorus fertilizer ameliorates maize growth by reducing metal uptake, improving soil enzyme activity and microbial community structure

Wencheng Wu, Jiahui Wu, Xiaowen Liu, Xianbin Chen, Yingxin Wu, Shixiao Yu

School of Life Science/State Key Laboratory of Biocontrol, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou 510275, PR China.


Recently, several studies have showed that both organic and inorganic fertilizers are effective in immobilizing heavy metals at low cost, in comparison to other remediation strategies for heavy metal-contaminated farmlands. A pot trial was conducted in this study to examine the effects of inorganic P fertilizer and organic fertilizer, in single application or in combination, on growth of maize, heavy metal availabilities, enzyme activities, and microbial community structure in metal-contaminated soils from an electronic waste recycling region. Results showed that biomass of maize shoot and root from the inorganic P fertilizer treatments were respectively 17.8 and 10.0 folds higher than the un-amended treatments (CK), while the biomass in the organic fertilizer treatments was only comparable to the CK. In addition, there were decreases of 85.0% in Cd, 74.3% in Pb, 66.3% in Cu, and 91.9% in Zn concentrations in the roots of maize grown in inorganic P fertilizer amended soil. Consistently, urease and catalase activities in the inorganic P fertilizer amended soil were 3.3 and 2.0 times higher than the CK, whereas no enhancement was observed in the organic fertilizer amended soil. Moreover, microbial community structure was improved by the application of inorganic P fertilizer, but not by organic fertilizer; the beneficial microbial groups such as Kaistobacter and Koribacter were most frequently detected in the inorganic P fertilizer amended soil. The negligible effect from the organic fertilizer might be ascribed to the decreased pH value in soils. The results suggest that the application of inorganic P fertilizer (or in combination with organic fertilizer) might be a promising strategy for the remediation of heavy metals contaminated soils in electronic waste recycling region.

Keywords: Heavy metal, Soil remediation, Fertilizer, Enzyme activity, Microbial community structure.

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