Effects of Metal and Metalloid Contamination on Microbial Diversity and Activity in Agricultural Soils
Korean Journal of Soil Science and Fertilizer
The continuous increase in the production of metals and their subsequent release into the environment has lead to increased concentration of these elements in agricultural soils. Because microbes are involved in almost every chemical transformations taking place in the soil, considerable attention has been given to assessing their responses to metal contaminants. Short-term and long-term exposures to toxic metals have been shown to reduce microbial diversity, biomass and activities in the soil.
... Several studies show that microbial parameters like basal respiration, metabolic quotient, and enzymatic activities, including those of oxidoreductases and those involved in the cycle of C, N, P and other elements, exhibit sensitivity to soil metal concentrations. These have been therefore, regarded as good indices for assessing the impact of metal contaminants to the soil. Metal contamination has also been extensively shown to decrease species diversity and cause shifts in microbial community structure. Biochemical and molecular techniques that are currently being employed to detect these changes are continuously challenged by several limiting factors, although showing some degree of sensitivity and efficiency. Variations and inconsistencies in the responses of bioindicators to metal stress in the soil can also be explained by differences in bioavailability of the metal to the microorganisms. This, in turn, is influenced by soil characteristics such as CEC, pH, soil particles and other factors. Therefore, aside from selecting the appropriate techniques to better understand microbial responses to metals, it is also important to understand the prevalent environmental conditions that interplay to bring about observed changes in any given soil parameter.