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Effect Of Cd-containing Wood Ash On The Microflora Of Coniferous Forest Humus.

Fritze, Perkiömäki, Saarela, Katainen, Tikka, Yrjälä, Karp, Haimi, Romantschuk
Published 2000 · Biology, Medicine

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The use of wood ash in forestry has been questioned because the cadmium (Cd) concentration of ash, which varies between 1 and 20 mg kg(-1) ash, exceeds the level allowed for fertilizers (3 mg kg(-1)) used in agriculture. To investigate the combined and separated effects of Cd and ash on the forest humus microflora, pumice or wood ash, spiked with a water-soluble (CdCl(2)) or -insoluble (CdO) form of Cd at three levels (0, 400 and 1000 mg kg(-1)), were applied at a fertilization level of 5000 kg ha(-1) in a laboratory microcosm study. The trial consisted of 60 microcosms (five replications per treatment), which were incubated in darkness at +20 degrees C and a constant relative air humidity of 60%. After two months the humus in the microcosms was sampled. Analyses of CO(2) evolution to measure the overall microbial activity and of phospholipid fatty acid (PLFA) pattern to measure microbial community structure were performed. The substrate-use patterns of Biolog EcoPlates were analyzed as a measure of bacterial functionality. Finally the bacterial (3)H-thymidine incorporation in the presence of different concentrations of Cd and the number of colony forming units (cfu) of bacteria on nutrient agar in the presence of 0, 5 and 20 mg Cd l(-1) agar were applied to measure Cd tolerance. The use of pumice (pH of humus under the pumice 4.0) did not induce any changes in the above variables compared to two untreated microcosms (humus pH 3.9). Pumice was therefore used to distribute the Cd evenly over the humus surface in order to estimate the possible effect of Cd without ash (pH of humus under the ash 7.0). The application of ash increased the microbial activity, changed the PLFA and substrate-use patterns and increased cfu compared to the humus under pumice. The form and level of Cd in the ash had no further effect on this result. In the humus under pumice the level, but not the form of Cd decreased the microbial activity and changed the PLFA pattern compared to the unspiked pumice. None of the treatments induced bacterial tolerance to Cd. Ash thus protected the humus microflora from the harmful effects of Cd.
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