Biochar is a promising addition for cadmium-contaminated soil in-situ remediation, but its surface properties change after aging, cadmium adsorption is not well-documented, and subsequent environmental effects are still unknown. In this study, wood-derived (Eucalyptus saligna
Sm.) biochar was pre-treated to simulate aging and the cadmium sorption process. We then analyzed the resulting physicochemical characteristics. We conducted comparative incubation studies on three age stages of biochar under cadmium adsorption or no cadmium adsorption and then measured soil properties and microbial communities after incubation. Biochar addition raised soil organic carbon (SOC), and aging significantly increased C/N ratios. Aged biochar promoted higher microbial abundance. Aged biochar treatments possessed different microflora with more gram-positive bacteria, significantly altering gram-positive/gram-negative bacteria ratios. Aging significantly increased the oxygen-containing functional groups (OCFGs) and surface area (SA) of biochar. Thus, aged biochar adsorbed more cadmium. Cadmium-binding biochar increased the proportion of gram-negative bacteria and decreased the proportions of gram-positive bacteria and fungi. Similar patterns in phospholipid fatty acids (PLFAs) across adsorption treatments indicated that changes in microbial communities due to the effects of cadmium were confined. The results reveal that biochar aging altered microbial community structure and function more than cadmium binding.
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