Soils might be a final sink for Ag2S nanoparticles (NPs). Still, there are limited data on their effects on soil bacterial communities (SBC). To bridge this gap, we investigated the effects of Ag2S NPs (10 mg kg−1 soil) on the structure and function of SBC in a terrestrial indoor mesocosm, using a multi-species design. During 28 days of exposure, the SBC function-related parameters were analysed in terms of enzymatic activity, community level physiological profile, culture of functional bacterial groups [phosphorous-solubilizing bacteria (P-SB) and heterotrophic bacteria (HB)], and SBC structure was analysed by 16S rRNA gene-targeted denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis. The SBC exposed to Ag2S NPs showed a significative decrease of functional parameters, such as β-glucosidase activity and L-arginine consumption, and increase of the acid phosphatase activity. At the structural level, significantly lower richness and diversity were detected, but at later exposure times compared to the AgNO3 treatment, likely because of a low dissolution rate of Ag2S NPs. In fact, stronger effects were observed in soils spiked with AgNO3, in both functional and structural parameters. Changes in SBC structure seem to negatively correlate with parameters related to phosphorous (acid phosphatase activity) and carbon cycling (abundance of HB, P-SB, and β-glucosidase activity). Our results indicate a significant effect of Ag2S NPs on SBC, specifically on parameters related to carbon and phosphorous cycling, at doses as low as 10 mg kg-1 soil. These effects were only observed after 28 days, highlighting the importance of long-term exposure experiments for slowly dissolving NPs.
- Community level physiological profile
- Denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis
- Indoor Mesocosm
- Silver sulfide nanoparticle
- Soil bacterial community
- Soil enzymatic activity