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Arbuscular mycorrhizal contribution to heavy metal uptake by maize (Zea mays L.) in pot culture with contaminated soil


In two pot-culture experiments with maize in a silty loam (P2 soil) contaminated by atmospheric deposition from a metal smelter, root colonization with indigenous or introduced arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi and their influence on plant metal uptake (Cd, Zn, Cu, Pb, Mn) were investigated. Soil was γ-irradiated for the nonmycorrhizal control. In experiment 1, nonirradiated soil provided the mycorrhizal treatment, whereas in experiment 2 the irradiated soil was inoculated with spores of a fungal culture from P2 soil or a laboratory reference culture, Glomus mosseae. Light intensity was considerably higher in experiment 2 and resulted in a fourfold higher shoot and tenfold higher root biomass. Under the conditions of experiment 1, biomass was significantly higher and Cd, Cu, Zn and Mn concentrations significantly lower in the mycorrhizal plants than in the nonmycorrhizal plants, suggesting a protection against metal toxicity. In contrast, in experiment 2, biomass did not differ between treatments and only Cu root concentration was decreased with G. mosseae-inoculated plants, whereas Cu shoot concentration was significantly increased with the indigenous P2 fungal culture. The latter achieved a significantly higher root colonization than G. mosseae (31.7 and 19.1%, respectively) suggesting its higher metal tolerance. Zn shoot concentration was higher in both mycorrhizal treatments and Pb concentrations, particularly in the roots, also tended to increase with mycorrhizal colonization. Cd concentrations were not altered between treatments. Cu and Zn, but not Pb and Cd root-shoot translocation increased with mycorrhizal colonization. The results show that the influence of AM on plant metal uptake depends on plant growth conditions, on the fungal partner and on the metal, and cannot be generalized. It is suggested that metal-tolerant mycorrhizal inoculants might be considered for soil reclamation, since under adverse conditions AM may be more important for plant metal resistance. Under the optimized conditions of normal agricultural practice, however, AM colonization even may increase plant metal absorption from polluted soils.

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Weissenhorn, I., Leyval, C., Belgy, G. et al. Arbuscular mycorrhizal contribution to heavy metal uptake by maize (Zea mays L.) in pot culture with contaminated soil. Mycorrhiza 5, 245–251 (1995). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00204957

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Key words

  • Glomus mosseae
  • Heavy metals Indigenous mycorrhiza
  • Tolerance
  • Transfer