FEMS microbiology ecology

Simazine application inhibits nitrification and changes the ammonia-oxidizing bacterial communities in a fertilized agricultural soil.

PMID 22066929


s-Triazine herbicides are widely used for weed control, and are persistent in soils. Nitrification is an essential process in the global nitrogen cycle in soil, and involves ammonia-oxidizing Bacteria (AOB) and ammonia-oxidizing Archaea (AOA). In this study, we evaluated the effect of the s-triazine herbicide simazine on the nitrification and on the structure of ammonia-oxidizing microbial communities in a fertilized agricultural soil. The effect of simazine on AOB and AOA were studied by PCR-amplification of amoA genes of nitrifying Bacteria and Archaea in soil microcosms and denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) analyses. Simazine [50 μg g(-1) dry weight soil (d.w.s)] completely inhibited the nitrification processes in the fertilized agricultural soil. The inhibition by simazine of ammonia oxidation observed was similar to the reduction of ammonia oxidation by the nitrification inhibitor acetylene. The application of simazine-affected AOB community DGGE patterns in the agricultural soil amended with ammonium, whereas no significant changes in the AOA community were observed. The DGGE analyses strongly suggest that simazine inhibited Nitrosobacteria and specifically Nitrosospira species. In conclusion, our results suggest that the s-triazine herbicide not only inhibits the target susceptible plants but also inhibits the ammonia oxidation and the AOB in fertilized soils.