Effects of Carbon in Flooded Paddy Soils: Implications for Microbial Activity and Arsenic Mobilization

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Shikha Avancha and Kristin Boye, Stanford University, Los Altos Hills, CA, United States
In the Mekong delta in Cambodia, naturally occurring arsenic (originating from erosion in the Himalaya Mountains) in paddy soils is mobilized during the seasonal flooding. As a consequence, rice grown on the flooded soils may take up arsenic and expose people eating the rice to this carcinogenic substance. Microbial activity will enhance or decrease the mobilization of arsenic depending on their metabolic pathways. Among the microbes naturally residing in the soil are denitrifying bacteria, sulfate reducers, metal reducers (Fe, Mn), arsenic reducers, methanogens, and fermenters, whose activity varies based on the presence of oxygen. The purpose of the experiment was to assess how different amendments affect the microbial activity and the arsenic mobilization during the transition from aerobic to anaerobic metabolism after flooding of naturally contaminated Cambodian soil.

In a batch experiment, we investigated how the relative metabolic rate of naturally occurring microbes could vary with different types of organic carbon. The experiment was designed to measure the effects of various sources of carbon (dried rice straw, charred rice straw, manure, and glucose) on the microbial activity and arsenic release in an arsenic-contaminated paddy soil from Cambodia under flooded conditions. All amendments were added based on the carbon content in order to add 0.036 g of carbon per vial. The soil was flooded with a 10mM TRIS buffer solution at pH 7.04 in airtight 25mL serum vials and kept at 25 °C. We prepared 14 replicates per treatment to sample both gas and solution. On each sampling point, the solution replicates were sampled destructively. The gas replicates continued on and were sampled for both gas and solution on the final day of the experiment. We measured pH, total arsenic, methane, carbon dioxide, and nitrous oxide at 8 hours, 1.5 days, 3.33 days, and 6.33 days from the start of the experiment.