High concentrations of single-walled carbon nanotubes lower soil enzyme activity and microbial biomass

Lixia Jin, Yowhan Son, Tae Kyung Yoon, Yu Jin Kang, Woong Kim, Haegeun Chung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

93 Citations (Scopus)


Nanomaterials such as single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs) may enter the soil environment with unknown consequences resulting from the development of nanotechnology for a variety of applications. We determined the effects of SWCNTs on soil enzyme activity and microbial biomass through a 3-week incubation of urban soils treated with different concentrations of SWCNTs ranging from 0 to 1000μgg-1 soil. The activities of cellobiohydrolase, Β-1,4-glucosidase, Β-1,4-xylosidase, Β-1,4-N-acetylglucosaminidase, l-leucine aminopeptidase, and acid phosphatase and microbial biomass were measured in soils treated with powder and suspended forms of SWCNTs. SWCNTs of concentrations at 300-1000μgg-1 soil significantly lowered activities of most enzymes and microbial biomass. It is noteworthy that the SWCNTs showed similar effects to that of multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs), but at a concentration approximately 5 times lower; we suggest that this is mainly due to the higher surface area of SWCNTs than that of MWCNTs. Indeed, our results show that surface area of CNTs has significant negative relationship with relative enzyme activity and biomass, which suggests that greater microorganism-CNT interactions could increase the negative effect of CNTs on microorganisms. Current work may contribute to the preparation of a regulatory guideline for the release of CNTs to the soil environment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9-15
Number of pages7
JournalEcotoxicology and Environmental Safety
Publication statusPublished - 2013 Feb 1

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the Basic Science Research Program (No. 2010-0025691 ) of National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology . It was also supported by the Ministry of Environment (MOE), Korea through the 'Waste to energy and recycling human resource development project'.


  • Carbon nanotube
  • Extracellular enzyme
  • Nanomaterial
  • Soil incubation
  • Soil microorganism
  • Surface area

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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