Effects of olive mill wastewater on soil carbon and nitrogen cycling

Appl Microbiol Biotechnol. 2014 Mar;98(6):2739-49. doi: 10.1007/s00253-013-5272-4. Epub 2013 Oct 4.


This study investigated the cycling of C and N following application of olive mill wastewater (OMW) at various rates (0, 42, 84, and 168 m(3)/ha). OMW stimulated respiration rate throughout the study period, but an increase in soil organic matter was observed only at the highest rate. Soil phenol content decreased rapidly within 2 weeks following application but neither phenol oxidase and peroxidase activity nor laccase gene copies could explain this response. Soil NH4 (+)-N content increased in response to OMW application rate, while an opposite trend observed for NO3 (-)-N, which attributed to immobilization. This decrease was in accordance with amoA gene copies of archaeal and bacterial ammonia oxidizers in the first days following OMW application. Afterwards, although amoA gene copies and potential nitrification rates recovered to values similar to or higher than those in the non-treated soils, NO3 (-)-N content did not change among the treatments. A corresponding increase in denitrifying gene copies (nirK, nirS, nosZ) during that period indicates that denitrification, stimulated by OMW application rate, was responsible for this effect; a hypothesis consistent with the decrease in total Kjeldahl nitrogen content late in the season. The findings suggest that land application of OMW is a promising practice for OMW management, even at rates approaching the soil water holding capacity.

MeSH terms

  • Ammonium Compounds / analysis
  • Archaea / enzymology
  • Archaea / genetics
  • Bacteria / enzymology
  • Bacteria / genetics
  • Carbon / analysis*
  • DNA, Archaeal / analysis
  • DNA, Bacterial / analysis
  • Food Handling / methods*
  • Industrial Waste
  • Nitrates / analysis
  • Nitrogen / analysis*
  • Olea / chemistry*
  • Oxidoreductases / genetics
  • Phenol / analysis
  • Soil / chemistry*
  • Waste Water / chemistry*


  • Ammonium Compounds
  • DNA, Archaeal
  • DNA, Bacterial
  • Industrial Waste
  • Nitrates
  • Soil
  • Waste Water
  • Phenol
  • Carbon
  • Oxidoreductases
  • ammonia monooxygenase
  • Nitrogen