Re-inoculation of autoclaved soil as a non-sterile treatment for xenobiotic sorption and biodegradation studies

L. J. Shaw*, Y. Beaton, L. A. Glover, K. Killham, A. A. Meharg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

50 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Autoclaved soil is commonly used for the study of xenobiotic sorption and as an abiotic control in biodegradation experiments. Autoclaving has been reported to alter soil physico-chemical and xenobiotic sorption characteristics such that comparison of autoclaved with non-autoclaved treatments in soil aging and bioavailability studies may yield misleading results. Experiments could be improved by using autoclaved soil re-inoculated with indigenous microorganisms as an additional or alternative non-sterile treatment for comparison with the sterile, autoclaved control. We examined the effect of autoclaving (3 x 1 h, 121°C, 103.5 KPa) on the physico-chemical properties of a silt loam soil (pH 7.2, 2.3% organic carbon) and the establishment of indigenous microorganisms reintroduced after autoclaving. Sterilisation by autoclaving significantly (p ≤ 0.05) decreased pH (0.6 of a unit) and increased concentrations of water-soluble organic carbon (WSOC; nontreated = 75 mg kg-1; autoclaved = 1526 mg kg-1). The initial first-order rate of 14C-2,4-dichloro-UL-phenol (2,4-DCP) adsorption to non-treated, autoclaved and re-inoculated soil was rapid (K1 = 16.8-24.4 h-1) followed by a slower linear phase (K2). In comparison with autoclaved soil (0.038% day-1), K2 values were higher for re-inoculated (0.095% day-1) and nontreated (0.181% day-1) soil. This was attributed to a biological process. The Freundlich adsorption coefficient (K(f)) for autoclaved soil was significantly (p ≤ 0.05) higher than for re-inoculated or non-treated soil. Increased adsorption was attributed to autoclaving-induced changes to soil pH and solution composition. Glucose-induced respiration of autoclaved soil after re-inoculation was initially twice that in the non-treated control, but it decreased to control levels by day 4. This reduction corresponded to a depletion of WSOC. 2,4-DCP mineralisation experiments revealed that the inoculum of nonsterile soil (0.5 g) contained 2,4-DCP-degrading microorganisms capable of survival in autoclaved soil. The lag phase before detection of significant 2,4-DCP mineralisation was reduced (from 7 days to ≤3 days) by pre-incubation of re-inoculated soils for 7 and 14 days before 2,4-DCP addition. This was attributed to the preferential utilisation of WSOC prior to the onset of 2,4-DCP mineralisation. Cumulative 14CO2 evolved after 21 days was significantly lower (p ≤ 0.05) from non-treated soil (25.3%) than re-inoculated soils (ca 45%). Experiments investigating sorption-biodegradation interactions of xenobiotics in soil require the physico-chemical properties of sterile and non-sterile treatments to be as comparable as possible. For fundamental studies, we suggest using re-inoculated autoclaved soil as an additional or alternative non-sterile treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)217-226
Number of pages10
JournalApplied Soil Ecology
Volume11
Issue number2-3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 01 Feb 1999

Keywords

  • 2,4-Dichlorophenol
  • Bioavailability
  • Biodegradation
  • Sorption
  • Sterilisation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Soil Science
  • Ecology

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