Effects of iron and nitrogen-coupled cycles on cadmium availability in acidic paddy soil from Southern China

Yichun Li, Jianfeng Ning, Qi Li, Linfeng Li, Nanthi S. Bolan, Bhupinder Pal Singh, Hailong Wang

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Purpose Microbially mediated nitrate (NO3-) reduction coupled to ferrous Fe (Fe[II]) oxidation (termed NRFO) and anaerobic ammonium (NH4+) oxidation coupled to ferric Fe (Fe[III]) reduction (termed Feammox) represent two known processes driving Fe redox cycle, and the associated interactions between nutrients and contaminants in paddy soils. Thus, we hypothesized that NRFO and Feammox may play important roles in Cd availability, especially in paddy soils characterized by dynamic redox processes. Materials and methods An acidic paddy soil from a red soil region of southern China was amended with NO3- or NH4+ in strictly anoxic incubation experiments. The microcosm technique was used with some modification to achieve the conditions that would facilitate the gradual change in the magnitude of redox. The pH and redox potential (Eh) of soil suspension were measured in situ. Gas samples were withdrawn to analyze nitrous oxide (N2O) concentration. Soil slurries were sampled to determine NO3-, nitrite (NO2-), NH4+, and Fe(II) concentrations and to study Fe and Cd distributions among soil liquid and solid phases. Stoichiometric calculations of redox reactions were carried out at the time point of maximum levels of NO2- production and N2O emission in all soil slurries during the anaerobic incubation. Results and discussion Our study demonstrated the occurrence of NRFO in soil slurries. Of the Fe(II) produced, 30% was contributed by Fe(II) oxidation via NRFO. The occurrence of Feammox in soil slurries was also observed, in which 17% of Fe(II) produced was attributed to Fe(III) reduction via Feammox. Both aqueous and solid-phase Fe(II) oxidation by NO3- and NO2- during NRFO lowered Fe concentrations in soluble, MgCl2-extractable, and NaOAc-extractable fractions, and promoted the formation of amorphous Fe oxides, which provided reactive surfaces for Cd adsorption, thus decreasing the soluble Cd fraction. In contrast, enhanced Fe(III) reduction due to Feammox and subsequent Fe(II) adsorption and precipitation accelerated Fe transformation from MgCl2-extractable to NaOAc-extractable fractions, which triggered Cd transformation from soluble to NH2OH center dot HCl-extractable fractions. Conclusions All NRFO and Feammox affected the Cd distribution by controlling the Fe redistribution among the soil liquid and solid phases. In the context of high N inputs and high Fe content in paddy soils of southern China, we suggest that NRFO and Feammox could be two potentially important mediating pathways for manipulating the bioavailability of Cd-contaminated soils.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)431-445
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Soils and Sediments
Issue number1
Early online date1 Sep 2022
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023


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