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Carbon nanomaterials affect carbon cycle-related functions of the soil microbial community and the coupling of nutrient cycles

Lookup NU author(s): Professor David WernerORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND).


Many studies have examined changes in soil microbial community structure and composition by carbon nanomaterials (CNMs). Few, however, have investigated their impact on microbial community functions. This study explored how fullerene (C60) and multi-walled carbon nanotubes (M50) altered functionality of an agricultural soil microbial community (Archaea, Bacteria and Eukarya), using microcosm experiments combined with GeoChip microarray. M50 had a stronger effect than C60 on alpha diversity of microbial functional genes; both CNMs increased beta diversity, resulting in functional profiles distinct from the control. M50 exerted a broader, severer impact on microbially mediated nutrient cycles. Together, these two CNMs affected CO2 fixation pathways, microbial degradation of diverse carbohydrates, secondary plant metabolites, lipids and phospholipids, proteins, as well as methanogenesis and methane oxidation. They also suppressed nitrogen fixation, nitrification, dissimilatory nitrogen reduction, eukaryotic assimilatory nitrogen reduction, and anaerobic ammonium oxidation (anammox). Phosphorus and sulfur cycles were less vulnerable; only phytic acid hydrolysis and sulfite reduction were inhibited by M50 but not C60. Network analysis suggested decoupling of nutrient cycles by CNMs, manifesting closer and more hierarchical gene networks. This work reinforces profound impact of CNMs on soil microbial community functions and ecosystem services, laying a path for future investigation in this direction.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Wua F, You Y, Werner D, Jiao S, Hu J, Zhang X, Wan Y, Liu J, Wang B, Wang X

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Hazardous Materials

Year: 2020

Volume: 390

Print publication date: 15/05/2020

Online publication date: 21/01/2020

Acceptance date: 19/01/2020

Date deposited: 17/04/2020

ISSN (print): 0304-3894

ISSN (electronic): 1873-3336

Publisher: Elsevier


DOI: 10.1016/j.jhazmat.2020.122144


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