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Soil Microbial Responses to Different Precipitation Regimes Across a Southwestern United States Elevation Gradient

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Soil organic carbon (SOC) is a critical component of the global carbon (C) cycle, accounting for more C than the biotic and atmospheric pools combined. Microbes play an important role in soil C cycling, with abiotic conditions such as soil

Soil organic carbon (SOC) is a critical component of the global carbon (C) cycle, accounting for more C than the biotic and atmospheric pools combined. Microbes play an important role in soil C cycling, with abiotic conditions such as soil moisture and temperature governing microbial activity and subsequent soil C processes. Predictions for future climate include warmer temperatures and altered precipitation regimes, suggesting impacts on future soil C cycling. However, it is uncertain how soil microbial communities and subsequent soil organic carbon pools will respond to these changes, particularly in dryland ecosystems. A knowledge gap exists in soil microbial community responses to short- versus long-term precipitation alteration in dryland systems. Assessing soil C cycle processes and microbial community responses under current and altered precipitation patterns will aid in understanding how C pools and cycling might be altered by climate change. This study investigates how soil microbial communities are influenced by established climate regimes and extreme changes in short-term precipitation patterns across a 1000 m elevation gradient in northern Arizona, where precipitation increases with elevation. Precipitation was manipulated (50% addition and 50% exclusion of ambient rainfall) for two summer rainy seasons at five sites across the elevation gradient. In situ and ex situ soil CO2 flux, microbial biomass C, extracellular enzyme activity, and SOC were measured in precipitation treatments in all sites. Soil CO2 flux, microbial biomass C, extracellular enzyme activity, and SOC were highest at the three highest elevation sites compared to the two lowest elevation sites. Within sites, precipitation treatments did not change microbial biomass C, extracellular enzyme activity, and SOC. Soil CO2 flux was greater under precipitation addition treatments than exclusion treatments at both the highest elevation site and second lowest elevation site. Ex situ respiration differed among the precipitation treatments only at the lowest elevation site, where respiration was enhanced in the precipitation addition plots. These results suggest soil C cycling will respond to long-term changes in precipitation, but pools and fluxes of carbon will likely show site-specific sensitivities to short-term precipitation patterns that are also expected with climate change.

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2019

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Trade-offs in utilizing of zero-valent iron for synergistic biotic and abiotic reduction of trichloroethene and perchlorate in soil and groundwater

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The advantages and challenges of combining zero-valent iron (ZVI) and microbial reduction of trichloroethene (TCE) and perchlorate (ClO4-) in contaminated soil and groundwater are not well understood. The objective of this work was to identify the benefits and limitations of

The advantages and challenges of combining zero-valent iron (ZVI) and microbial reduction of trichloroethene (TCE) and perchlorate (ClO4-) in contaminated soil and groundwater are not well understood. The objective of this work was to identify the benefits and limitations of simultaneous application of ZVI and bioaugmentation for detoxification of TCE and ClO4- using conditions relevant to a specific contaminated site. We studied conditions representing a ZVI-injection zone and a downstream zone influenced Fe (II) produced, for simultaneous ZVI and microbial reductive dechlorination applications using bench scale semi-batch microcosm experiments. 16.5 g L-1 ZVI effectively reduced TCE to ethene and ethane but ClO4- was barely reduced. Microbial reductive dechlorination was limited by both ZVI as well as Fe (II) derived from oxidation of ZVI. In the case of TCE, rapid abiotic TCE reduction made the TCE unavailable for the dechlorinating bacteria. In the case of perchlorate, ZVI inhibited the indigenous perchlorate-reducing bacteria present in the soil and groundwater. Further, H2 generated by ZVI reactions stimulated competing microbial processes like sulfate reduction and methanogenesis. In the microcosms representing the ZVI downstream zone (Fe (II) only), we detected accumulation of cis-dichloroethene (cis-DCE) and vinyl chloride (VC) after 56 days. Some ethene also formed under these conditions. In the absence of ZVI or Fe (II), we detected complete TCE dechlorination to ethene and faster rates of ClO4- reduction. The results illustrate potential limitations of combining ZVI with microbial reduction of chlorinated compounds and show the potential that each technology has when applied separately.

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2017