Contrasting Effect of Hemp Biochar on Substrate Interference During Colorimetric Assay of β-glucosaminidase Enzyme in Soils


Amira Slocum

Student Classification


Faculty Mentor

Dr. Idowu Atoloye, Dr Arnab Bhowmik


Environmental Studies

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 4-2021


Biochar has been shown to improve soil health and enhance nutrient retention when applied to soil. Quantifying the impacts of biochar on soil enzyme activities, however, could be impeded by the reaction of the enzyme substrate with biochar. The aim of this study was to assess the impact of different types of biochar on the reduction of potential β-glucosaminidase activity, an enzyme associated with nitrogen cycling in soils. Three types of biochar namely 1) hemp biochar, 2) miscanthus biochar, and 3) hardwood biochar were applied to two different soil types in North Carolina (Piedmont and Coastal) at four different rates (0, 2.5, 5, and 10 %). The findings showed that hardwood biochar reduced the substrate, p-nitrophenyl-N-acetyl-β-d-glucosaminide (10 mM), activity across the two soil types. On the other hand, miscanthus biochar reduced the substrate activity at a 5% rate in the Coastal soil, while hemp biochar did seem to impede the substrate activity. The interference of biochar with the enzyme activity could be linked to the chemical characteristics of the biochar as not all biochar impeded the substrate activity. Thus, the potential impact of hemp biochar on biological soil health indicators, such as soil enzyme activities, should be readily quantifiable and explored in more details.

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