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



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