Study on the toxic effects of diphenol compounds on soil microbial activity by a combination of methods

Huilun Chen, Jun Yao*, Fei Wang, Martin M F CHOI, Emilia Bramanti, Gyula Zaray

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

76 Citations (Scopus)


Microcalorimetric technique based on heat-output measurement, direct microorganism counting and enzymatic activity determination, have been explored to evaluate the toxic effects of diphenol species (catechol, resorcinol, and hydroquinone) on soil microbial activity. The thermokinetic parameters including growth rate constant (k), inhibitory ratio, half inhibitory concentration and total thermal effect (Qtotal), were calculated and compared using the data obtained from the power-time curves of the microcalorimeter. It was found that addition of high concentrations of diphenol compounds to the soil samples resulted in low microorganism counts. The trend of the number of cultivable microorganisms with increasing concentration of diphenols was similar to specific growth rate k. It appeared that the higher the water soluble carbon (WSC) content, the higher the Qtotal value. The low dehydrogenase and β-glucosidase found in the soils treated by catechol and hydroquinone was possibly due to their low WSC concentration and high inhibitory effects, respectively. The results reveal the toxicity of the three diphenols in a descending sequence: hydroquinone, resorcinol and catechol. The combination of the three methods is a more comprehensive toxicological investigation of a complex microbiological system. Microcalorimetry is for studying the metabolic growth of microorganisms, the plate counting method is for quantifying the real microbial growth, and the soil enzyme activity is for assessing the intracellular and extracellular activity of microbial biomass. Our proposed methods can provide toxicological information of diphenols to soil microbes from the metabolic, microbial and biochemical point of views which are consistent with and correlated to each other. Crown

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)846-851
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Hazardous Materials
Issue number1-3
Publication statusPublished - 15 Aug 2009

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

User-Defined Keywords

  • Diphenols
  • Enzymatic activity
  • Microcalorimetry
  • Plate counting
  • Soil microbial activity


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