Response of the microbial community to copper oxychloride in acidic sandy loam soil

Du Plessis K.R. ; Botha A. ; Joubert L. ; Bester R. ; Conradie W.J. ; Wolfaardt G.M. (2005)


Aims: Determining the response of different microbial parameters to copper oxychloride in acidic sandy loam soil samples using cultivation-dependent and direct microscopic techniques. Methods and Results: Culturable microbial populations were monitored for 245 days in a series of soil microcosms spiked with different copper oxychloride concentrations. Microbial populations responded differently to additional Cu. Protistan numbers and soil metabolic potential decreased. Experiments with more soil samples revealed that metabolic potential was not significantly affected by ≤100 mg kg-1 additional Cu. However, a negative impact on protista was noted in soil containing only 15 mg kg-1 EDTA-extractable Cu. The negative impact on protistan numbers was less severe in soils with a higher phosphorous and zinc content. Conclusions: Bacterial populations responded differently, and protista were most sensitive to elevated Cu levels. Protistan numbers in soil from uncultivated land were higher and seemed to be more sensitive to additional Cu than the numbers of these organisms in soil originating from cultivated land. Significance and Impact of the Study: Protistan sensitivity to small increases in Cu levels demonstrates the vulnerability of the soil ecosystem to Cu perturbations, especially when the importance of protista as link in the flow of energy between trophic levels is considered. © 2005 The Society for Applied Microbiology.

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