This study investigated whether 2 and 30 mg AgNPs or CuONPs/g TS present in treated sludge (biosolids) may impact the soil health by monitoring the soil characteristics and soil bacterial community for 105 days after the application of biosolids. AgNPs or CuONPs/g TS were first anaerobically digested with mixed primary and secondary sludge rather than adding pristine nanoparticles to biosolids directly. Both environmentally relevant (under the USEPA ceiling concentration limits) and high concentrations of AgNPs and CuONPs were tested. Soil tests included TOC, TN, TP, pH, cell viability and heterotrophic plate counts (HPC). Metagenomic data was generated by high-throughput sequencing of the 16S rRNA gene to explore bacterial populations and diversity. AgNPs and CuONPs at 2 and 30 mg NPs/g TS of sludge could impact soil health factors such as bacterial diversity, community structure, and the population of plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria (PGPR). The population of the highly abundant bacteria that have important physiological roles in soil decreased, while the less important bacteria for soil function were able to thrive. CuONPs exhibited a higher level of toxicity than the AgNPs at both phylum and genus taxonomic levels, and the HPC decreased with higher concentrations of AgNPs and CuONPs. Initially, most of the studied phyla abundance was affected, but the control and other reactors approached similar levels by the end of the experiments, which may be explained by the decrease in toxicity due to the transformation of nanoparticles and the defence mechanisms of bacteria, and indicates the need for long-term field studies.

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Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Abdulsada, Z. (Zainab), Kibbee, R, Örmeci, B, DeRosa, M.C, & Princz, J. (Juliska). (2021). Impact of anaerobically digested silver and copper oxide nanoparticles in biosolids on soil characteristics and bacterial community. Chemosphere, 263. doi:10.1016/j.chemosphere.2020.128173