Changing how we view chlorine in soil

January 10, 2018

Researchers at Linköping University have studied how combinations of different environmental factors affect the chlorination of organic matter in soils. The results show that the supply of fresh organic compounds, which promote the growth of the microorganisms, increases chlorination. The discovery could mean that chlorine in ecosystems has a different significance than previously believed.

Chlorine is one of the most common elements on earth, and scientists long believed that sodium chloride (common salt) was the most common form. Previous studies at Linköping University have shown that organic chlorine forms dominate in soil, and that an extensive chlorination of organic matter occurs there. But it has not been known what affects these processes. Now the researchers have come one step closer to understanding why so much organic chlorine is bound in the soil.

"There are previous studies into what affects the formation of organic chlorine in the ground, but these investigated one environmental factor at a time. What's unique about this study is that we have studied several factors simultaneously. This has revealed new patterns", says David Bastviken, professor at Linköping University.

The environmental factors that were studied in combination in the new study are soil moisture, nitrate, chloride and carbon. By way of two large experiments with forest soil from the Swedish regions of Kolmården and Linköping, the researchers were able to measure how the various environmental factors affect chlorination. The addition of easily degradable organic carbon forms (such as glucose) was found to increase chlorination significantly. The results have been published in the scientific journal Environmental Science & Technology.

Chlorination - more than persistent compounds

The main players in the chlorination process are the microorganisms that have the ability to chlorinate the soil. Previously, researchers believed that microorganisms, in particular fungi, chlorinate organic material in order to break it down into smaller 'edible' pieces. The study from Linköping University shows that this is probably not the case.

When the microorganisms are favoured, which in the experiment was done by giving them access to easily obtainable organic carbon, it turned out that chlorination actually increased dramatically. That is, chlorination increased when the microorganisms had easier access to food. Thus, chlorination can have important ecological functions related to the activity of microorganisms, such as dealing with dangerous oxygen radicals that form during metabolism, or being part of the chemical battle that the microorganisms are engaged in, in the competition for resources in the ground.

Chloride in soil has also been considered a non-reactive element, i.e. one that does not react to other chemical elements and compounds.

"However now we show that chloride is reactive. These are ecological functions that we are beginning to discover, and a revised view of chloride is also interesting from a societal perspective. For instance when developing risk models for radioactive waste that includes radioactive chloride", says Teresia Svensson, senior lecturer at Linköping University.

Malin Montelius, Malin Andersson, Cecilia Lindberg, Henrik Reyier, Karolina Rietz and Åsa Danielsson from Linköping University also took part in the study.

Linköping University

Related Microorganisms Articles from Brightsurf:

A more resistant material against microorganisms is created to restore cultural heritage
The study was performed by a research team at the University Research Institute into Fine Chemistry and Nanochemistry at the University of Cordoba and Seville's Institute of Natural Resources and Agrobiology of the Spanish National Research Council

NYUAD study finds gene targets to combat microorganisms binding to underwater surfaces
A group of synthetic biologists at NYU Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) have identified new genetic targets that could lead to safe, biologically-based approaches to combat marine biofouling - the process of sea-based microorganisms, plants, or algae binding to underwater surfaces.

Less flocking behavior among microorganisms reduces the risk of being eaten
When algae and bacteria with different swimming gaits gather in large groups, their flocking behaviour diminishes, something that may reduce the risk of falling victim to aquatic predators.

Are vultures spreaders of microbes that put human health at risk?
A new analysis published in IBIS examines whether bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms that are present in wild vultures cause disease in the birds, and whether vultures play a role in spreading or preventing infectious diseases to humans and other animal species.

Timing key in understanding plant microbiomes
Oregon State University researchers have made a key advance in understanding how timing impacts the way microorganisms colonize plants, a step that could provide farmers an important tool to boost agricultural production.

Advances in the production of minor ginsenosides using microorganisms and their enzymes
Advances in the Production of Minor Ginsenosides Using Microorganisms and Their Enzymes - BIO Integration Announcing a new article publication for BIO Integration journal.

Study shows how microorganisms survive in harsh environments
In northern Chile's Atacama Desert, one of the driest places on Earth, microorganisms are able to eke out an existence by extracting water from the rocks they colonize.

Microorganisms in parched regions extract needed water from colonized rocks
Cyanobacteria living in rocks in Chile's Atacama Desert extract water from the minerals they colonize and, in doing so, change the phase of the material from gypsum to anhydrite.

Verticillium wilt fungus killing millions of trees is actually an army of microorganisms
A research project studied the microbiome of olive tree roots and concluded that Verticillium wilt is fueled by a community of microorganisms that team up to attack plants, thus reassessing the way this problem is dealt with

New drug formulation could treat Candida infections
With antimicrobial resistance (AMR) increasing around the world, new research led by the University of Bristol has shown a new drug formulation could possibly be used in antifungal treatments against Candida infections.

Read More: Microorganisms News and Microorganisms Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to