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This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 38 No. 1, p. 103-110
    Received: Jan 14, 2008

    * Corresponding author(s): David.B.Ringelberg@usace.army.mil
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Tungsten Effects on Microbial Community Structure and Activity in a Soil

  1. D. B. Ringelberg *a,
  2. C. M. Reynoldsa,
  3. L. E. Winfieldb,
  4. L. S. Inouyeb,
  5. D. R. Johnsonb and
  6. A. J. Bednarb
  1. a US Army ERDC-CRREL, 72 Lyme Rd., Hanover, NH 03755
    b US Army ERDC-EL, 3909 Halls Ferry Rd., Vicksburg, MS 39180


Tungsten, once deposited onto a soil as a result of private, industrial, and military activities, may persist as tungstate anion or, via polymerization, as a variety of poly-tungstate species, each with varying solubility and soil sorption characteristics. In this study, the impact of weathered tungsten on a soil microbial community was measured. Fatty acid analyses indicated that weathered tungsten at ≤2500 mg kg−1 was associated with a significant increase in microbial biomass and that concentrations up to 6500 mg kg−1 did not result in a significant decrease in measured biomass, relative to the control. Analysis of cellular fatty acids also identified significant microbial community shifts between 0 and 325, 1300 and 2600, and 3900 and 6500 mg W kg−1 soil. In general, the positive effect of tungsten on microbial biomass coincided with an increase in Gram-negative bacterial fatty acids, whereas fatty acids indicative of actinomycetes and Gram-positive bacteria were more abundant at the highest soil tungsten concentrations. The weathered tungsten also inhibited N2 fixing activity of a free living diazotroph at ≥1300 mg W kg−1 soil. These results indicate that tungsten in soil can alter both the structure and the function of an indigenous soil microbial community.

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Copyright © 2009. American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Soil Science SocietyAmerican Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and Soil Science Society of America