, Volume 652, Issue 1, pp 127–137 | Cite as

Short term changes in pore water chemistry in river sediments during the early colonization by Vallisneria spiralis

  • Erica Racchetti
  • Marco Bartoli
  • Cristina Ribaudo
  • Daniele Longhi
  • Luciana E. Q. Brito
  • Mariachiara Naldi
  • Paola Iacumin
  • Pierluigi Viaroli
Primary research paper


This study aims to investigate the effects of benthic vegetation colonization on pore water chemistry in river sediments with different organic matter and nutrient loadings. Shoots of Vallisneria spiralis L., surface sediments and water were collected in March 2009 from two fluvial reaches, upstream (U) and downstream (D) an urban wastewater treatment plant. Laboratory microcosms were created with homogenised sediments and macrophytes from each sampling site, half with bare sediments (UB and DB) and half with transplanted shoots of V. spiralis (UV and DV). Microcosms were then incubated over 25 days in two tanks with water from U and D. Approximately every 4 days, three microcosms from each treatment (UB, DB, UV and DV) were terminated, and pore water was analysed for Eh, pH, O2, CO2, CH4, Fe2+, PO4 3−, NH4 +, NO3 and DRSi. Significant effects of both vegetation and wastewater loadings were found. Vegetated sediments of both sites, especially UV, displayed significantly higher Eh and O2 and significantly lower dissolved CH4, NH4 + and DRSi in pore water compared to bare sediments. At site D, despite an elevated nitrate availability, pore water NH4 + was the preferred N-source for V. spiralis uptake. Unvegetated sediments downstream the sewage plant (DB) exhibited the lowest redox potential and CH4, NH4 +, PO4 3− and Fe2+ accumulation in the pore water. Overall, results from this study suggest that early colonisation by rooted macrophytes affects pore water chemistry towards more oxidized conditions, along with nutrient retention within sediments, which are related to the uptake capacity and oxygen release by roots. They also suggest an elevated physiological plasticity for V. spiralis, as higher organic matter content and lower redox potential in downstream sediments did not affect its functions of ecosystem engineer as benthic metabolism regulator.


Pore water chemistry Rhizosphere Vallisneria spiralis Early colonization Oxygen transport 



E. Racchetti acknowledges the Fondazione Lombardia per l’Ambiente (FLA) for supporting her research activity.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Erica Racchetti
    • 1
  • Marco Bartoli
    • 1
  • Cristina Ribaudo
    • 1
  • Daniele Longhi
    • 1
  • Luciana E. Q. Brito
    • 1
  • Mariachiara Naldi
    • 1
  • Paola Iacumin
    • 2
  • Pierluigi Viaroli
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Environmental SciencesParma UniversityParmaItaly
  2. 2.Department of Earth SciencesParma UniversityParmaItaly

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