University of Sussex
Solomon-Wisdom,_Grace_Oyiza.pdf (11.56 MB)

The effect of in situ spatial heterogeneity of lead in soil on plant uptake

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posted on 2023-06-08, 21:00 authored by Grace Oyiza Solomon-Wisdom
The understanding of the spatial distribution of lead (Pb) in soil is important in the assessment of potential risks and development of remediation strategies for Pb contaminated land. In situ heterogeneity of Pb was measured at two heavily contaminated sites in the United Kingdom using the Portable X-ray Fluorescence Spectrometer (P-XRF) over a range of spatial scales (0.02 to 50 m). The pattern of the distribution of Pb was very variable, and when expressed as heterogeneity factor (HF), it ranged from 1.2 to 3.2 (highly heterogeneous). The effect of such Pb heterogeneity on plant uptake was investigated in greenhouse pot trials. Two earlier pot trials, which assessed the effect of Pb in a fixed concentration (1000 mg/kg) and in a range of concentration (100 to 10000 mg/kg) found a significant effect of the Pb added treatments, when compared to a control treatment (0 mg/kg Pb added). Biomass and uptake varied by 20 to 100% within and between 16 species/varieties. Results enhanced the selection of two species (Brassica napus and Brassica juncea) for further pot trials. A third pot experiment with Brassica napus and Brassica juncea in simplistic binary model of heterogeneity found 20 to 60% lower uptake in the binary treatment, than homogeneous the treatment. Biomass was higher by 10 to 50% in Brassica juncea and 20 to 40% lower for B. napus in the bianary treatment, when compared to the homogeneous and control treatments. The effect of a more realistic in situ heterogeneity on plant uptake was investigated in a further pot trial, which simulated low (LH), medium) (MH) and high (HH) heterogeneity treatments, compared to a homogeneous (HO) treatment. It detected a significant (P < 0.05) impact of heterogeneity on biomass and uptake between treatments and species. Four to five fold lower biomass were recorded in HH treatment, when compared to the HO treatment. Shoot and root uptake in (mg/kg) concentration increased with increasing heterogeneity with peak uptake (twice as high as HO treatment) in LH for B. napus and in HH and MH treatments for B. juncea respectively. Shoot and root Pb masses in (µg) were maximum in HO and MH treatments respectively with 50 to 70% lower Pb mass in the HH treatment. Results showed that response to heterogeneity is species specific. A sub-experiment explored the behaviour of plant roots in HH treatment and found 20 to 80% variation in root biomass between concentric patches with same nominal soil Pb concentrations. This provided insights into varied responses of these species to realistic Pb heterogeneity. The research demonstrated that the presence and extent of in situ heterogeneity of Pb in soil plays an important role in Pb uptake by plants. It also showed that the homogeneous and simplistic binary model of heterogeneity do not give reliable estimates of plant growth and Pb uptake in realistic field conditions. This work has implications for improving the efficiency of phytoremediation of Pb contaminated land, phytomining, reliability of risk assessment and models of human exposure to Pb.


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University of Sussex

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