Effects of biochar on soil microbial community and functional genes of a landfill cover three years after ecological restoration

Hang LU, Mengxue YAN, Ming Hung WONG, Wing Yin MO, Yinghui WANG, Xun Wen CHEN, Jun-Jian WANG

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Landfills, as the most common approach to disposing of municipal solid waste worldwide, disturb native ecosystems and create a need for ecological restoration. The restoration of landfill cover with biochar has shown immediate potential to improve soil microbial functions within one year. However, such characteristics could change after a longer period of time. Here, soil properties, microbial communities, and microbial functional genes related to nutrient cycling were investigated three years after the biochar amendment of the topsoil of a subtropical landfill cover. The results showed that the levels of soil organic matter, water content, total carbon (C), total nitrogen (N) and total phosphorus (P) of biochar-amended soils were higher than those of control soil. Different soil microbial community structures were observed in the biochar-amended and control soils. Nine phyla, including Proteobacteria and Acidobacteria, but not Actinobacteria or Chloroflexi, were enriched in the biochar-amended soil. Although the impact of biochar on shaping microbial communities increased after a longer period of restoration, no differences were observed in soils that were amended using different biochar:soil ratios. The abundances of functional genes related to C and N cycling decreased, whereas those of genes related to P cycling were higher in soils that received biochar amendment. This finding suggests that compared with the control soil, biochar-amended soils were less active in processes involved in C and N cycling but enhanced in processes related to P cycling. This study can serve as a reference for future ecological restoration of degraded lands using biochar. Copyright © 2020 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Article number137133
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Early online dateFeb 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Feb 2020


Land fill
microbial community
nutrient cycling
municipal solid waste
Municipal solid waste
soil organic matter
soil property
community structure
Biological materials


Lu, H., Yan, M., Wong, M. H., Mo, W. Y., Wang, Y., Chen, X. W., & Wang, J.-J. (2020). Effects of biochar on soil microbial community and functional genes of a landfill cover three years after ecological restoration. Science of The Total Environment, 717. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.137133


  • Ecological restoration
  • Biochar
  • Functional genes
  • Degraded lands
  • Biogeochemical cycles