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Root-induced soil acidification and cadmium mobilization in the rhizosphere of Sedum plumbizincicola: evidence from a high-resolution imaging study

Sun, Xi, Li, Zhu, Wu, Longhua, Christie, Peter, Luo, Yongming, Fornara, Dario A.
Plant and soil 2019 v.436 no.1-2 pp. 267-282
Acrisols, Sedum plumbizincicola, acidification, bioavailability, cadmium, cations, chemical concentration, ecotypes, hyperaccumulators, image analysis, polluted soils, rhizosphere, root systems, roots, soil acidification, soil pH, soil pore water
AIMS: Plant roots can significantly alter soil pH and the chemical concentration and distribution of different elements in the rhizosphere environment. Here we ask whether cadmium (Cd) bioavailability in the rhizosphere of Cd-hyperaccumulator Sedum plumbizincicola can be influenced by root-induced effects on soil pH. METHODS: The Cd-hyperaccumulator S. plumbizincicola and the Cd non-hyperaccumulator ecotype Sedum alfredii were both grown in four different Cd-contaminated soils. We used the planar optode imaging technique to produce two-dimensional and high-resolution measurements of soil pH. Shoot excess cation concentration, root architecture and Cd concentrations ([Cd]) in soil pore water were also measured. Spatial analyses based on kernel density estimate of roots (KDE) and a Moran’s I correlogram were performed to assess spatial patterns and potential relationships among root distribution, soil pH and [Cd]. RESULTS: Both Sedum species showed root-induced increases in soil acidification (i.e. soil pH decreases of 0.1 to 0.62 units), which were clearly associated with greater root density of these plants. Remarkable excess cation uptakes by both Sedum species were detected and likely a driving factor for the root-induced acidification. The presence of the roots of S. plumbizincicola were then related to higher [Cd] in the rhizosphere than in bulk soil in Orthic Acrisol (+342%) and in Hydragric Antrosol soils (+296%). The hyperaccumulator S. plumbizincicola had larger root systems, higher acidification ability, and was associated with greater soil [Cd] than S. alfredii. Spatial patterns of root distribution and soil pH were similar between Sedum plants, however, spatial patterns of [Cd] differed across polluted soils. CONCLUSION: Rhizosphere acidification induced by S. plumbizincicola plants can play an important role on soil Cd mobilization, but overall effects on soil Cd bioavailability will depend on intrinsic soil biogeochemical properties.