The effect of Cu on three different microbial endpoints was studied using different Cu sources, in order to check the usefulness of pure Cu salts to estimate the toxicity of commercial Cu fungicides on soil microbes. Cu additions caused similar dose-response curves of substrate induced respiration (SIR) decreases regardless of Cu source, i.e. the use of pure Cu salts to estimate the effect of Cu fungicides on microbial biomass using SIR may be useful. Phospholipid fatty acid (PLFA) analysis showed that the Cu source was more important for the microbial community structure than Cu concentration. Thus, the use of Cu salts to infer the effects of Cu fungicides on microbial community structure using PLFA analysis is not recommended, since effects of Cu concentration will be confounded with Cu source. Analyzing pollution induced community tolerance (PICT) to Cu showed that the use of pure Cu salts may overestimate Cu effects if Cu salt additions modified the soil pH. The highest doses of Cu salts increased bacterial community tolerance to Cu between 300 and 600 times, while commercial Cu fungicide increases were between 20 and 160 times. Therefore, the use of pure Cu salts to estimate the Cu fungicides effects on soil microbes is not recommended for PLFAs analyses, not suitable for PICT at high Cu concentrations, while useful for SIR.
Keywords: Commercial Cu fungicides; PICT; PLFA; Pure salt copper; SIR.
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