• Combined pollution;
  • Cu;
  • Se;
  • Soil enzyme activities;
  • EC50


The present study explored the joint effects of Cu and Se pollution mechanisms on soil enzymes to provide references for the phytoremediation of contaminated areas and agricultural environmental protection. Pot experiments and laboratory analyses were carried out to study the individual and combined influences of Cu and Se on soil enzyme activities. The activities of four soil enzymes (urease, catalase, alkaline phosphatase, and nitrate reductase) were chosen. All soil enzyme activities tested were inhibited by Cu and Se pollution, either individually or combined, in varying degrees, following the order nitrate reductase > urease > catalase > alkaline phosphatase. Growing plants stimulated soil enzyme activity in a similar trend compared with treatments without plants. The joint effects of Cu and Se on catalase activity showed synergism at low concentrations and antagonism at high concentrations, whereas the opposite was observed for urease activity. However, nitrate reductase activity showed synergism both with and without plant treatments. The half maximal effective concentration (EC50) of exchangeable fractions had a similar trend with the EC50 of total content and was lower than that of total content. The EC50 values of nitrate reductase and urease activities were significantly lower for both Se and Cu (p < 0.05), which indicated that they were more sensitive than the other two enzymes. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 2013;32:1109–1116. © 2013 SETAC