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Chemosphere
Volume 274, 2021, 129924

Salinity-induced changes in cadmium availability affect soil microbial and biochemical functions: Mitigating role of biochar

Nahid Azadi,Fayez Raiesi

Department of Soil Science and Engineering, Faculty of Agriculture, Shahrekord University, P.O. Box 115, Shahrekord, Iran.

Abstract

Biochar may improve soil microbial and biochemical functions under abiotic stresses. In this research, we studied changes in soil microbial properties and processes after sugarcane bagasse biochar (SCB) application (1% w/w) to a soil contaminated with Cd under saline conditions during an incubation experiment. SCB produced at 400°C (B400) and 600°C (B600) increased soil organic carbon (SOC) content by 89–127% and dissolved organic carbon content by 21–70%. NaCl salinity mobilized Cd by 16–19%, while biochar immobilized Cd by 14–18%, indicating the use of biochar would offset the increase in Cd availability induced by salinity. SCB application improved microbial and biochemical functions (up to 280%) in the soils contaminated with Cd under salinity stress. B400 biochar was often more effective in improving the soil microbial properties and functioning than B600 biochar. SCB application reduced the detrimental effects of salinity-induced Cd toxicity on soil microbial community and enzyme activity mainly through retaining Cd and supplying C substrate for microbial uptake and activity. The factor analysis and redundancy analysis results also confirmed that SOC and Cd availability was the most important factors and accounted for a large portion of the variation in soil microbial properties and enzyme activities in saline Cd-contaminated soils amended with SCB. This study indicated that B400 applied at 1% could be used in saline Cd-contaminated soils to protect the soil microbial communities from Cd toxicity, and to mitigate the potential stresses associated with the co-occurrence of Cd contamination and salinity on critical soil microbial and biochemical functions.

Keywords: Biochar, Multivariate analysis, Soil enzymes, Microbial community, Cadmium toxicity, Salinity stress.

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