Fertilization enhances grain inorganic arsenic assimilation in rice

Monira Begum, Litian Li, Ellen Young, Manus Carey, Gang Li, Yong-Guan Zhu, Stephen Banwart, Andrew A. Meharg*, Caroline Meharg*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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To investigate how soil fertilization/amendments alters arsenic speciation grain off-take in paddy rice, rice was grown to maturity in growth chambers fertilized with standard mineral fertilizer, wood ash (rich in silica), pig slurry (rich in organic matter), and non-amended control. The soil was sourced from a Chinese paddy field. The primary fertilized elements (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium) were kept constant across treatments. Porewater chemistry and soil microbiology were monitored throughout the experiments. Total grain arsenic, sum of inorganic arsenic and dimethylarsinic acid (DMA), was significantly different between treatments (P = 0.024), with inorganic arsenic varying from 0.025 to 0.08 mg/kg and DMA from 0.08 to 0.16 mg/kg for control compared to fertilized, respectively. Fertilizer source made no difference to arsenic speciation concentration in grain. Porewater analysis found that as anaerobism set in, inorganic arsenic, phosphorus and manganese greatly lowered in concentration. Methylated arsenic species concentrations increased over time, concurrent with an increase in pH, decrease in Eh, and increase in total organic carbon and iron, with no strong treatment effects, except for pig slurry that enhanced pH and decreased Eh. Methanogenic archaea, sulfate-reducing bacteria and Acidobacteria increased with time and some Actinobacteria and Firmicutes increased due to slurry, but then decreased with time (P   < 0.01). Methanogenic archaea and sulphate-reducing bacteria correlated positively with porewater DMA and negatively with porewater inorganic arsenic (P  < 0.05). Genera within the Actinobacteria and Burkholderiaceae correlated negatively with DMA, while genera with iron-reducing capacity (Clostridiales) correlated positively with porewater inorganic arsenic and DMA (P  < 0.05).
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages14
JournalExposure and Health
Early online date26 May 2023
Publication statusEarly online date - 26 May 2023


  • Arsenic
  • Fertilization
  • Paddy soil microbiology
  • Rice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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