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Impact of microbial activity on the mobility of metallic elements (Fe, Al and Hg) in tropical soils

Balland-Bolou-Bi, C., Bolou-Bi, E.B., Alphonse, V., Giusti-Miller, S., Jusselme, M.D., Livet, A., Grimaldi, M., Bousserhine, N.
Geoderma 2019 v.334 pp. 146-154
Acrisols, Ferralsols, acidity, aluminum, biogeochemical cycles, clay, deciduous forests, dissolved organic carbon, forest soils, iron, mercury, microbial activity, microbial biomass, moieties, molecular weight, organic acids and salts, soil microorganisms, soil pH, soil solution, sorption, temperate soils, tropical soils
Dissolved organic carbon (DOC), especially low molecular mass organic acids (LMMOAs) derives principally from biota degradation process in which soil microorganisms are the main actors and from roots exudates. The presence of LMMOAs led to an increase of availability and mobility of metallic elements through the formation of organo-metallic complex. In tropical soils, very few information about LMMOAs quantification and their role in the biogeochemical process related to trace metals cycling was available. Quantification of LMMOAs is limited due to their low concentration and rapid degradation. Until now, the role of microbial activity as well as LMMOAs in the biogeochemical cycle of metallic elements in tropical soils has not been investigated. The present study was conducted to evaluate the effect of microbial activity and biomass on the availability and mobility of metallic elements (Fe, Al and Hg) in two tropical soils, Ferralsol and Acrisol. We also quantified LMMOAs contents in soil solutions and addressed to their role in the mobilization of metals.Utilization of Diffuse Gradient in Thin film (DGT) method permits to analyze bioavailable metal in both fractions: organically complexed and free metals. The results show that the quantity of Fe, Al and Hg labile were higher in Ferralsol than Acrisol soils. This was more accentuated for the 50 cm-depth of soils where the microbial activities and the organic carbon content were important. Concentration of LMMOAs of Ferralsol and Acrisol were lower in compare to coniferous and deciduous forest soils. Proportions of LMMOAs in DOC were very small at 10.5% and 6.85% in the Ferralsol and Acrisol soils, respectively. The mobilization of Fe, Al and Hg in Ferralsol and Acrisol soils appeared to vary depending on the soil physico-chemical characteristics (sorption capacities and metals content) and also on the microbial biomass and activity. Soil pH influences the acidity of the functional groups in organic molecules and consequently their speciation. In addition, low pH increase proton competition within acidic functional groups involved in coordinate bond. The content of CEC in Ferralsol is higher than Acrisol that is related to the high contents of clay and organic carbon. Low CEC content can result in a decrease of retain of the cationic trace metals. Low CEC content led to a decrease of the capacity of retaining of metallic elements in tropical soils in compare to temperate soils.