Combinational effects of sulfomethoxazole and copper on soil microbial community and function

Aiju Liu, Huansheng Cao, Yan Yang, Xiaoxuan Ma, Xiao Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Sulfonamides and Cu are largely used feed additives in poultry farm. Subsequently, they are spread onto agricultural soils together with contaminated manure used as fertilizer. Both sulfonamides and Cu affect the soil microbial community. However, an interactive effect of sulfonamides and Cu on soil microorganisms is not well understood. Therefore, a short-time microcosm experiment was conducted to investigate the interaction of veterinary antibiotic sulfomethoxazole (SMX) and Cu on soil microbial structure composition and functions. To this end, selected concentrations of SMX (0, 5, and 50 mg kg−1) and Cu (0, 300, and 500 mg kg−1) were combined, respectively. Clear dose-dependent effects of SMX on microbial biomass and basal respiration were determined, and these effects were amplified in the presence of additional Cu. For activities of soil enzymes including β-glucosidase, urease, and protease, clear reducing effects were determined in soil samples containing 5 or 50 mg kg−1 of SMX, and the interaction of SMX and Cu was significant, particularly in soil samples containing 50 mg kg−1 SMX or 500 mg kg−1 Cu. SMX amendments, particularly in combination with Cu, significantly reduced amounts of the total, bacterial, and fungal phospholipid fatty acids (PLFAs) in soil. Moreover, the derived ratio of bacteria to fungi decreased significantly with incremental SMX and Cu, and principal component analysis of the PLFAs showed that soil microbial composition was significantly affected by SMX interacted with Cu at 500 mg kg−1. All of these results indicated that the interaction of SMX and Cu was synergistic to amplify the negative effect of SMX on soil microbial biomass, structural composition, and even the enzymatic function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4235-4241
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironmental Science and Pollution Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Copper
  • Microbial community
  • Soil enzymes
  • Soil nitrification
  • Sulfonamides

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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