New mechanisms of biochar-assisted vermicomposting by recognizing different active di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) degraders across pedosphere, charosphere and intestinal sphere

J Hazard Mater. 2023 Sep 15;458:131990. doi: 10.1016/j.jhazmat.2023.131990. Epub 2023 Jul 4.


Biochar-assisted vermicomposting can significantly accelerate soil DEHP degradation, but little information is known about the underlying mechanisms as different microspheres exist in soil ecosystem. In this study, we identified the active DEHP degraders in biochar-assisted vermicomposting by DNA stable isotope probing (DNA-SIP) and surprisingly found their different compositions in pedosphere, charosphere and intestinal sphere. Thirteen bacterial lineages (Laceyella, Microvirga, Sphingomonas, Ensifer, Skermanella, Lysobacter, Archangium, Intrasporangiaceae, Pseudarthrobacter, Blastococcus, Streptomyces, Nocardioides and Gemmatimonadetes) were responsible for in situ DEHP degradation in pedosphere, whereas their abundance significantly changed in biochar or earthworm treatments. Instead, some other active DEHP degraders were identified in charosphere (Serratia marcescens and Micromonospora) and intestinal sphere (Clostridiaceae, Oceanobacillus, Acidobacteria, Serratia marcescens and Acinetobacter) with high abundance. In biochar-assisted vermicomposting, the majority of active DEHP degraders were found in charosphere, followed by intestinal sphere and pedosphere. Our findings for the first time unraveled the spatial distribution of active DEHP degraders in different microspheres in soil matrices, explained by DEHP dynamic adsorption on biochar and desorption in earthworm gut. Our work highlighted that charosphere and intestinal sphere exhibited more contribution to the accelerated DEHP biodegradation than pedosphere, providing novel insight into the mechanisms of biochar and earthworm in improving contaminant degradation.

Keywords: Biodegradation; DNA stable isotope probing (DNA-SIP); Earthworm.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biodegradation, Environmental
  • DNA
  • Diethylhexyl Phthalate* / metabolism
  • Ecosystem
  • Soil
  • Soil Pollutants* / metabolism


  • phthalic acid
  • Diethylhexyl Phthalate
  • biochar
  • Soil Pollutants
  • Soil
  • DNA