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Science of The Total Environment
Volume 772, 2021, 145023

Effects of cadmium on soil nitrification in the rhizosphere of Robinia pseudoacacia L. seedlings under elevated atmospheric CO2 scenarios

Xia Jiaa, Yunfeng Gaob, Xiaodi Lia, Yonghua Zhaob, Lu Wanga, Chunyan Zhanga

Key laboratory of Degraded and Unused Land Consolidation Engineering, the Ministry of Land and Resources, Key Laboratory of Subsurface Hydrology and Ecological Effects in Arid Region of Ministry of Education, Shaanxi Key Laboratory of Land Consolidation, School of Water and Environment, Chang'an University, Xi'an 710054, PR China.


The individual impacts of elevated CO2 and heavy metals on soil nitrification have been widely reported. However, studies on the combined effects of elevated CO2 and heavy metals on soil nitrification are still limited. Here, a 135-day growth chamber experiment was conducted to investigate the impacts of elevated CO2 and cadmium (Cd) levels on soil nitrification in the rhizosphere of Robinia pseudoacacia L. seedlings. Elevated CO2 combined with Cd pollution generally stimulated ammonia monooxygenase (AMO), hydroxylamine oxidase (HAO), and nitrite oxidoreductase (NXR) activities. Compared to the control, the abundance of ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB) at day 135 and ammonia-oxidizing archaea (AOA) increased significantly (p < 0.05) and the abundance of AOB at days 45 and 90 and that of the nitrite-oxidizing bacteria (NOB) decreased under elevated CO2 + Cd. Elevated CO2 mostly led to a significant (p < 0.05) decrease in soil nitrification intensity in the rhizosphere of R. pseudoacacia exposed to Cd. The effects of Cd, CO2, and their interaction on HAO and NXR activities were significant (p < 0.01). Soil pH, the C/N ratio, water-soluble organic carbon, water-soluble organic nitrogen (WSON), and total carbon were the dominant factors (p < 0.05) affecting nitrifying enzyme activities and nitrification intensity in rhizosphere soils. Elevated CO2 clearly affected AOA, AOB, and NOB community structures and dominant genera by shaping C/N ratio, pH, and Cd and WSON contents in rhizosphere soils under Cd exposure. Overall, the responses of pH, C/N ratio, WSON, and Cd to elevated CO2 led to changes in rhizosphere soil nitrification under the combination of elevated CO2 and Cd pollution.

Keywords: Ammonia-oxidizing bacteria, Ammonia-oxidizing archaea, Nitrite-oxidizing bacteria, Nitrifying enzyme activity, Nitrification intensity.

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