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Short term changes in the abundance of nitrifying microorganisms in a soil-plant system simultaneously exposed to copper nanoparticles and atrazine

Parada, J., Rubilar, O., Sousa, D.Z., Martínez, M., Fernández-Baldo, M.A., Tortella, G.R.
The Science of the total environment 2019 v.670 pp. 1068-1074
Archaea, agricultural soils, ammonia monooxygenase, atrazine, copper nanoparticles, genes, half life, nitrates, nitrifying bacteria, nitrogen cycle, pollutants, quantitative polymerase chain reaction, ribosomal RNA, risk
Copper nanoparticles (NCu) may co-exist with other pollutants in agricultural soils, such as pesticides. However, this has been little evaluated yet. Thus, possible effects of the simultaneous applications of pesticides and NCu on biogeochemical cycles are expected, for example on the nitrogen cycle. Therefore, the aim of this work was to evaluate the effect of simultaneous application of the herbicide atrazine (ATZ) and NCu on the abundance of total bacteria and nitrifying communities: ammonia-oxidizing archaea (AOA) and ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB). Moreover, the ATZ dissipation was evaluated. A soil-plant system containing ATZ at field dose (3 mg a.i. kg−1) was mixed with two doses of NCu (0.05% or 0.15% w/w). Changes in the abundance of 16S rRNA and ammonia monooxygenase (amoA) genes of AOA and AOB were evaluated by real-time quantitative PCR (qPCR) at three sampling times (1, 15 and 30 days). The residual ATZ and nitrate production were also measured. The results showed significant differences in microbial composition and abundance over the 30 days of the experiment. Particularly, an initial decrease was observed in total bacterial abundance due to the presence of ATZ and NCu respect to ATZ alone (~60%). The abundance of AOA was also remarkably reduced (~85%), but these communities gradually recovered towards the end of the experiment. Conversely, AOB abundance initially increased (>100%) and remained mainly unaltered in soil exposed to ATZ and NCu 0.15% w/w, where nitrate formation was also constant. Moreover, NCu decreased the ATZ dissipation, which was translated in a 2-fold increase on the ATZ half-life values (T1/2). This study demonstrates that the simultaneous presence of NCu and ATZ may represent a risk for the total bacteria present in soil and sensitive microorganisms such as nitrifying communities, and changes in the dissipation of the pesticide could influence this process.