Effects of earthworms on Zn fractionation in soils

Jiemin CHENG, Ming Hung WONG

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96 Citations (Scopus)


Laboratory incubation experiments were conducted to examine the effect of earthworm (Pheretima sp.) activity on soil pH, zinc (Zn) fractionation and N mineralization in three soils. No Zn uptake by earthworms was observed. Zinc addition decreased pH of red soil (soil 1) and hydragric paddy soil (soil 3) by 0.5 and 0.2 unit, respectively, but had no effect on alluvial soil (soil 2). The effect of Zn on soil pH was possibly due to a specific adsorption mechanism between Zn and oxides, Earthworm activity significantly decreased the pH of the red soil, a key factor affecting Zn solubility, but not of the other two soils. Earthworm activity significantly increased DTPA-Zn (DTPA-extractable) and OxFe-Zn (NH2OH-HCl-extractable) in the red soil, but had little effect on other fractions. In the alluvial soil, earthworm activity significantly increased OxFe-Zn but decreased organic-Zn (organic-associated Zn). In the hydragric paddy soil, earthworm activity significantly increased MgCl2-Zn (MgCl2-extractable) and organic-Zn. The level of CaCl2-extractable Zn in all three soils was not affected by earthworm activity. Nitrogen mineralized as a result of earthworm activity was equivalent to 110, 120 and 30 kg N ha-1 in soils 1, 2 and 3, respectively. Zinc added at rates less than 400 mg Zn kg-1 did not seem to affect the activity of N-mineralizing microorganisms. The present results indicated the possibility of increasing the metal bioavailability of relatively low level metalcontaminated soils, with a higher organic matter content, by earthworm inoculation. Copyright © 2002 Springer-Verlag.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)72-78
JournalBiology and Fertility of Soils
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2002


Cheng, J., & Wong, M. H. (2002). Effects of earthworms on Zn fractionation in soils. Biology and Fertility of Soils, 36(1), 72-78. doi: 10.1007/s00374-002-0507-z


  • Earthworm
  • Zinc fractionation
  • Nitrogen mineralization


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