A field study was conducted on an s-triazine–adapted soil to determine the effects of s-triazine exclusion interval (1, 2, 3, or 4 yr), crop production system (continuous corn or continuous soybean), and rhizosphere proximity (bulk or rhizosphere soil) on atrazine degrader populations and activity. Atrazine degrader populations were quantified by a radiological Most Probable Number technique, while degrader activity was assessed via mineralization of ring-labeled 14C-atrazine. As the s-triazine exclusion interval increased, atrazine degrader populations declined exponentially, regardless of crop or rhizosphere proximity. Crop and exclusion interval interacted to affect degrader populations (P = 0.0043). Pooled over rhizosphere and bulk soil, degrader populations were 1.5-fold higher and declined 2.8-fold faster in soybean than corn. An interaction between rhizosphere proximity and exclusion interval was also noted (P = 0.0021), whereby degrader populations were 1.9-fold higher and declined 2.8-fold slower in rhizosphere compared with bulk soil, regardless of crop. The time required for 50% mineralization of ring-labeled 14C-atrazine (DT50) following exclusion of s-triazine herbicides increased linearly at a rate of 2.2 d yr−1. In contrast, the DT50 for this site prior to a known s-triazine application was 85 d and declined exponentially over 5 yr of successive atrazine applications: 24.5 d after 1 yr, 10.8 d after two successive years, and 3.8 d after five successive atrazine applications. Omitting s-triazines can reduce degrader populations and activity in adapted soils, but more than 4 yr is required to return mineralization kinetics to nonadapted levels, regardless of crop or rhizosphere proximity.
Nomenclature: Atrazine; s-triazine; corn, Zea mays L.; soybean, Glycine max (L.) Merr.