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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract - Bioremediation and Biodegradation

Reduced Biodegradation of Benzonitrile in Soil Containing Wheat-Residue-Derived Ash


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 33 No. 3, p. 868-872
    Received: July 10, 2003

    * Corresponding author(s): gsheng@uark.edu
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  1. Ping Zhanga,
  2. Guangyao Sheng *a,
  3. Duane C. Wolfa and
  4. Yucheng Fengb
  1. a Department of Crop, Soil, and Environmental Sciences, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR 72701
    b Department of Agronomy and Soils, Auburn University, Auburn, AL 36849


Burning of crop residues is a common agricultural practice that incorporates the resulting particulate matter (ash) of high adsorptivity into soils. To investigate the effect of ash on the biodegradation of pesticides in soils, we measured the sorption, desorption, and biodegradation of benzonitrile in a silt loam in the presence and absence of an ash resulting from burning of wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) residue. Biodegradation experiments were conducted by inoculating sorbent slurries with a pure culture of benzonitrile-degrading bacteria (Nocardia sp.). Both liquid- and sorbed-phase benzonitrile concentrations were quantified over time. The ash was approximately 2000 times more effective per unit mass than the soil in sorbing benzonitrile. Amendment of the soil with 1% ash (by weight) resulted in a 10-fold increase in sorption. Sorption of benzonitrile by the ash significantly decreased the solution-phase concentration in the slurries of ash and ash-amended soil. Desorption of benzonitrile from the ash required approximately 60 min to complete, whereas approximately 20 min were required for desorption from the soil. Benzonitrile in the extracts of various sorbents and soil slurry was completely degraded within 500 min. However, the degradation was substantially reduced in the presence of the ash. At 2000 min, only 20% of benzonitrile in ash slurry and only 44% in ash-amended soil slurry were degraded. An acclimation period of approximately 100 min was observed in extracts and slurries containing the ash. Substantial reduction in the biodegradation of benzonitrile in the presence of wheat ash was apparently due to sorption of benzonitrile by the ash, slow desorption from the ash, and the increased acclimation period. Our results suggest that the presence of crop-residue-derived ash may increase the persistence of pesticides in agricultural soils.

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