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Negative Impacts of Biochars on Urease Activity: High pH, Heavy Metals, Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons, or Free Radicals?

A new interesting article has been published in Environ Sci Technol. 2018 Oct 23. doi: 10.1021/acs.est.8b00672. [Epub ahead of print] and titled:

Negative Impacts of Biochars on Urease Activity: High pH, Heavy Metals, Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons, or Free Radicals?

Authors of this article are:

Liu Y, Dai Q, Jin X, Dong X, Peng J, Wu M, Liang N, Pan B, Xing B.

A summary of the article is shown below:

Although biochars show promise for soil remediation, their negative impacts have not been systematically assessed. This study investigated the effects of corn cob biochars on urease-mediated urea hydrolysis and attempted to determine the mechanisms underlying those effects. The results showed that biochars inhibited urease activity (indicated by the NH4+ generation). Released heavy metals and polyaromatic hydrocarbons explained the 20% inhibition of urease activity in biochar supernatants (200 °C) but could not explain the 70% inhibition in particle systems (400 °C). The levels of protein carbonyl and nitrotyrosine, common oxidative damagers of urease, were high in particle systems but very low in biochar supernatants. The electron paramagnetic resonance signal intensity reached its highest level in the 400 °C biochar and decreased in the 500 °C biochar, possibly due to the decomposition of organic molecules. The observed inhibition of urease activity may be the result of oxidative reactions with free radicals on the biochar surface or oxidative reactions with reactive oxygen species promoted by free radicals. We suggest that these potential hazards be evaluated further to gauge the relevance of these findings to field conditions and to assist in the development of safe and sustainable application schemes for biochars.

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