Pristine and Sulfidized Zinc Oxide Nanoparticles Promote the Release and Decomposition of Organic Carbon in the Legume Rhizosphere

Lin Liu, Olga V. Tsyusko, Jason M. Unrine, Shuang Liu, Yidan Liu, Lulu Guo, Gehong Wei, Chun Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The effects and mechanisms of zinc oxide nanoparticles (ZnO NPs) and their aging products, sulfidized (s-) ZnO NPs, on the carbon cycling in the legume rhizosphere are still unclear. We observed that, after 30 days of cultivation, in the rhizosphere soil of Medicago truncatula, under ZnO NP and s-ZnO NP treatments, the dissolved organic carbon (DOC) concentrations were significantly increased by 1.8- to 2.4-fold compared to Zn2+ treatments, although the soil organic matter (SOM) contents did not change significantly. Compared to Zn2+ additions, the additions of NPs significantly induced the production of root metabolites such as carboxylic acids and amino acids and also stimulated the growth of microbes involved in the degradations of plant-derived and recalcitrant SOM, such as bacteria genera RB41 and Bryobacter, and fungi genus Conocybe. The bacterial co-occurrence networks indicated that microbes associated with SOM formation and decomposition were significantly increased under NP treatments. The adsorption of NPs by roots, the generation of root metabolites (e.g., carboxylic acid and amino acid), and enrichment of key taxa (e.g., RB41 and Gaiella) were the major mechanisms by which ZnO NPs and s-ZnO NPs drove DOC release and SOM decomposition in the rhizosphere. These results provide new perspectives on the effect of ZnO NPs on agroecosystem functions in soil-plant systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8943-8953
Number of pages11
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number24
StatePublished - Jun 20 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (41771296, 42277118) and the Talent Introduction Startup Fund of Northwest A&F University of China. J.U. and O.T. were supported by the United States Department of Agriculture under multistate project NC-1194 and Hatch Project KY006133.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 American Chemical Society.


  • carbon cycling
  • metabolome
  • microbial community
  • sulfidation
  • zinc oxide nanoparticles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry (all)
  • Environmental Chemistry


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