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Using golden apple snail to mitigate its invasion and improve soil quality: a biocontrol approach

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The invasive and widespread golden apple snail (GAS, Pomacea canaliculata) is a harmful crop pest in many parts of Asia. The heavy use of molluscicides to control GAS could result in soil and water pollution as well as in loss of biodiversity. A sustainable and pollution-free control method is urgently needed to counteract this invasion. In this study, we proposed using dried and powdered GAS residue to neutralize and fertilize soils. We compared the effects of adding GAS residue (i.e., ground GAS shell and meat residue) to the effects of adding lime upon soil properties and microbes in a greenhouse pot experiment. Each pot was incubated for 120 days, and soil pH, nutrients, microbial species, and enzyme activity were assessed. Results showed that addition of GAS residue significantly improved soil pH, contents of total organic carbon (TOC), total nitrogen (TN), total phosphorus (TP), and available nitrogen but decreased soil available phosphorus (AP) content due to phosphorus sorption induced by soil organic matter (OM) and high pH. The GAS residue added to soil released nutrients and alleviated soil acidity, as well as provided more resources to soil microbes to increase their bioactivity, although lime addition was better at mitigating soil acidity. We found that with added GAS residue of 25 g kg−1, the soil nitrate nitrogen (NO3-N) content increased by 10 times; microbial biomass increased by 43%; and enzyme activity of β-1,4-glucosidase, β-1,4-N-acetylglucosaminidase, and β-d-cellobiosidase also were enhanced, compared to the control. Our findings suggest that GAS residue functions well as a fertilizer and soil amendment to aid the remediation of barren and acidic soils, making it a valuable and useful option in the control of the invasive GAS.

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Ammonium nitrogen


Nitrate nitrogen


Total phosphorus


Total organic carbon


Total nitrogen


Available phosphorus


Gram-positive bacteria


Gram-negative bacteria




Bacteria (the sum of G+ and G−)










Acid phosphatase


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We are thankful for anonymous reviewers’ constructive comments and kind help for the improvement of the manuscript.


We received financial support from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 31870525, No. U1701236, No. 41871034), Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory of Eco-Circular Agriculture (No. 2019B030301007), and Guangdong Modern Agricultural Technology Innovation Team Construction Project (No. 2018LM1100, 2019KJ105).

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Correspondence to Jiaen Zhang.

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Jiaxin Wang and Xuening Lu are equally contributing authors.

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Wang, J., Lu, X., Zhang, J. et al. Using golden apple snail to mitigate its invasion and improve soil quality: a biocontrol approach. Environ Sci Pollut Res (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-020-07998-9

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  • Biocontrol
  • Golden apple snail
  • Microbial community
  • Soil nutrients
  • Soil pH
  • Waste management