Agron. Sustain. Dev.
Volume 27, Number 3, July-September 2007
Page(s) 267 - 272
Published online 09 June 2007
Agron. Sustain. Dev. 27 (2007) 267-272
DOI: 10.1051/agro:2007020

Microbial impact of the pesticide chlorpyrifos on Swedish and Italian biobeds

Costantino Vischettia, Laura Coppolab, Elga Monacia, Alessandra Cardinalia and Maria d.P. Castilloc

a  Dipartimento di Scienze Ambientali e delle Produzioni Vegetali, Università Politecnica delle Marche, Via Brecce Bianche, 60131 Ancona, Italy
b  Dipartimento di Scienze dei Sistemi Colturali, Forestali e dell'Ambiente, Università della Basilicata, Potenza, Italy
c  Department of Microbiology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala, Sweden

(Accepted 16 March 2007; published online 9 June 2007)

Abstract - Biobeds provide a simple and cheap solution to reducing point-source contamination by pesticides from farm activities. In its original design, the Swedish biobed is a clay-lined pit in the ground filled with a biomixture of topsoil, peat and straw and covered with a grass layer. The straw stimulates the growth of lignin-degrading fungi and the formation and activity of ligninolytic enzymes which can degrade many different pesticides. Here we compared the behaviour of the chlorpyrifos pesticide in two biobeds of different composition: a Swedish biobed composed of 50%v vine straw, 25%v peat and 25%v Swedish soil; and an Italian biobed composed of 40%v vine straw, 40%v green compost and 20%v Italian soil. Microbial biomass was measured in the Italian biomix by the fumigation-extraction method. The microbial activity was estimated by measuring mineralisation of a synthetic lignin, 14C-de-hydrogenative polymerisate (14C-DHP) in the Swedish biomix. Microbial respiration was followed over time in both biomixes. Our results show that the chlorpyrifos half-lives were similar in both biomixes. The microbial biomass content was reduced by 25 and 50% with, respectively, 10 and 50 mg kg-1 chlorpyrifos in the Italian biomix. The respiration activity was affected only at 50 mg kg-1 chlorpyrifos in the Italian biomix. No effect was observed in the Swedish biomix despite the higher chlorpyrifos concentration of 100 mg kg-1. The mineralisation of 14C-DHP was not affected by the presence of chlorpyrifos in the Swedish biomix. These findings could be explained by the presence of chlorpyrifos-sensitive microorganisms in the Italian biomix and chlorpyrifos-resitant microorganisms in the Swedish biomix. The more robust microflora developed in the Swedish biomix may be explained by its lower nitrogen content, higher C/N ratio and lower pH, all of which are favourable for the development of lignin-degrading fungi and their activity. In Sweden more than 1000 biobeds are in practical use on farms and they have been shown to be efficient at reducing pesticide water-body contamination. The present study compares the capability of an Italian biomix for degrading pesticides to that shown by the Swedish original biomix in order to introduce this biological system for a sustainable Italian agriculture.

Key words: chlorpyrifos / organic biomixes / pesticide biodegradation / ligninolytic microflora

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© INRA, EDP Sciences 2007