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The effects of more realistic forms of lead heterogeneity in soil on uptake, biomass and root response of two brassica species

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posted on 2023-06-19, 07:57 authored by Grace O Solomon-Wisdom, Michael H Ramsey, Elizabeth A John
The spatial heterogeneity of soil constituents is known to have significant impacts on plant growth and plant uptake of nutrients and contaminants, yet studies have rarely used patterns of heterogeneity based on those found in the field. Heterogeneity refers to how lumpy materials are distributed in the soil, whilst homogeneity is the uniformity in the distribution of such materials. We identified patterns of lead contamination at historically polluted field sites and conducted pot trials using field–based parameters to determine the pattern of distribution of lead within the pots. We examined plant Pb uptake and growth in simulated low, medium and high heterogeneity environments as well as a control homogeneous treatment. We found a significant effect of Pb spatial heterogeneity on uptake and biomass of two Brassica species (Brassica napus and Brassica juncea), both candidate species for phytoremediation projects. Biomass was 4 to 5 fold lower in the high heterogeneity treatment and total plant Pb uptake as Pb mass in (µg) was 40 to 80% lower, compared to the homogeneous treatment. Plant lead concentration (mg/kg) increased by a factor of 2 with increasing heterogeneity. Peak uptake was observed in low and medium heterogeneity treatments of B. napus and B. juncea respectively. We also explored roots behaviour in the high heterogeneity treatment and found variation in root mass by 20 to 80% between concentric patches with significant (P < 0.05) differences between patches and species. High proportion of roots (40 to 50%) were proliferated in patches of lower Pb concentration. The tap root was a greater proportion of root in B. napus, which was absent in B. juncea. Results suggest that root morphology of this plant species might be a factor influencing the placement of roots in concentric patches and consequently the overall root response to Pb spatial heterogeneity. This is an indication that the root response could be realistic of that experienced by plants in field conditions. Generally result showed that spatial heterogeneity of Pb has a significant effect on plant growth and biomass. This study also demonstrated that the presence and extent of in situ heterogeneity of Pb in soil plays an important role in Pb uptake by plants. This work has implications for improving the phytoremediation of Pb contaminated land, phytomining, the reliability of risk assessment/models of human exposure to Pb and the quality of trace mineral content of agricultural produce.


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