Terrestrial environment

Selective uptake of major and trace elements in Erica andevalensis, an endemicspecies to extreme habitats in the Iberian Pyrite Belt

Fabrizio Monaci , Eduardo O. Leidi , Maria Dolores Mingorance , Benito Vald′es , Sabina Rossini Oliva , Roberto Bargagli


Received April 08, 2010,Revised October 08, 2010, Accepted , Available online

Volume 23,2011,Pages 444-452

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To assess the ecophysiological traits and the phytoremediation potential of the endemic heather Erica andevalensis, we determined the concentrations of major and trace elements in di erent plant parts and in rizosphere soils from Riotinto mining district (Huelva, Spain). The results showed that E. andevalensis may grow on substrates with very high As, Cu, Fe and Pb concentrations (up to 4114, 1050, 71900 and 15614 g/g dry weight, respectively), very low availability of macro- and micronutrients and with pH values ranging from 3.3 to 4.9. In these harsh edaphic conditions E. andevalensis selectively absorbed and translocated essential nutrients and excludes potentially phytotoxic elements, which were accumulated in the root epidermis. The concentrations of major and trace elements in E. andevalensis aerial parts from the Riotinto mining district were in the normal range for plants; likewise other Erica species it accumulated Mn and only in a very polluted site we measured leaf concentrations of As and Pb within the excessive or toxic limits for plants. Di erently from previous studies, which emphasized the soil pH and bioavailability of phytotoxic elements as the main stress factors, this study showed that in the Riotinto region, E. andevalensis can tolerate wide range of pH and toxic element concentrations; the harshest environments colonized by monospecific patches of this species were characterized above all by very low availability of nutrients. The extraordinary capability to adapt to these extreme habitats made E. andevalensis a priority species to promote the phytostabilization and the development of a self-sustaining vegetative cover on Riotinto mine tailings.

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