The main aim of our work was to assess whether strontium (Sr) affects soil microbial biomass size and activity, and the involvement of said biomass in the availability process of the metal. In addition, information concerning the distribution and mobility of the stable element within ecosystems may allow the prediction of the behaviour of its radioisotope counterpart, 90Sr. Samples were collected in the surroundings of a strontium mine and characterised for total and diethylene triamine pentaacetic acid (DTPA)-extractable Sr, total organic C (TOC), microbial biomass C (MBC), MBC/TOC ratio and metabolic quotient (qCO2). Moreover, MBC and DTPA-extractable Sr were measured during a 45-day incubation experiment of samples soils amended with maize. Overall, increased levels of total Sr had a negative effect on both TOC and MBC. DTPA-extractable Sr was significantly correlated to MBC/TOC suggesting a possible role of soil microbial biomass in the mobilisation of the element. The synthesis of new microbial biomass after soil amendment was negatively affected by the initial content of DTPA-extractable Sr. Conversely, there was a linear positive relationship between newly formed MBC and DTPA-extractable Sr during the incubation, indicating that soil microbial biomass may promote the mobilisation of Sr. These findings indicate that soil amendment with easily degradable organic substrate significantly increases Sr mobility and availability.
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