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The presence of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in soil negatively affects the environment and the degradation of these contaminants is influenced by nitrogen metabolism. However, the mechanisms underlying the interrelationships between the functional genes involved in nitrogen metabolism and phenanthrene (PHE) biodegradation, as well as the effects of biochar on these mechanisms, require further study. Therefore, this study utilised metabolomic and metagenomic analysis to investigate primary nitrogen processes, associated functional soil enzymes and functional genes, and differential soil metabolites in PHE-contaminated soil with and without biochar amendment over a 45-day incubation period. Results showed that dissimilatory nitrate reduction to ammonium (DNRA) and denitrification were the dominant nitrogen metabolism processes in PHE-contaminated soil. The addition of biochar enhanced nitrogen modules, exhibiting discernible temporal fluctuations in denitrification and DNRA proportions. Co-occurrence networks and correlation heatmap analysis revealed potential interactions among functional genes and enzymes responsible for PHE biodegradation and nitrogen metabolism. Notably, enzymes associated with denitrification and DNRA displayed significant positive correlation with enzymes involved in downstream phenanthrene degradation. Of particular interest was stronger correlation observed with the addition of biochar. However, biochar amendment inhibited the 9-phenanthrol degradation pathway, resulting in elevated levels of glutathione (GSH) in response to environmental stress. These findings provide new insights into the interactions between nitrogen metabolism and PHE biodegradation in soil and highlight the dual effects of biochar on these processes.

Journal or Book Title

Environmental International




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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.