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Differences in growth characteristics and dynamics of elements absorbed in seedlings of three spruce species raised on serpentine soil in northern Japan

Kayama, M., Quoreshi, A. M., Uemura, S., Koike, T.
Annals of botany 2005 v.95 no.4 pp. 661-672
Picea glehnii, Picea jezoensis, Picea abies, forest trees, tree growth, seedling growth, serpentine soils, soil pollution, heavy metals, nickel, chromium, magnesium, phytotoxicity, plant nutrition, roots, symbiosis, mycorrhizal fungi, ectomycorrhizae, stems, conifer needles, dry matter accumulation, soil chemistry, Japan
BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Serpentine soils are characterized by the presence of heavy metals (Ni and Cr) and excess Mg; these elements often suppress plant growth. Picea glehnii is nevertheless distributed widely on serpentine soils in northern Japan. Growth characteristics were compared among P. glehnii, Picea jezoensis (distributed in the same region) and Picea abies (planted for timber production), and concentrations of elements in various tissues over time and the amount of ectomycorrhizal infection in short roots were evaluated. METHOD:s Seedlings of three spruce species were planted in two types of experimental plots, comprising serpentine soil and brown forest (non-serpentine) soil, and these seedlings were grown for 3 years. Growth, ectomycorrhizal infection of short roots, and elemental composition of tissues were examined. KEY RESULTS: The total dry mass of P. glehnii planted on serpentine soil was almost the same as on brown forest soil, and a large number of needles survived to reach later age classes. By contrast, growth of P. jezoensis and P. abies in serpentine soil was significantly less than in brown forest soil, and needle shedding was accelerated. Moreover, roots of seedlings of P. glehnii on serpentine soil were highly infected with ectomycorrhiza, and the concentration of Ni in needles and roots of P. glehnii was the lowest of the three species. CONCLUSIONS: Picea glehnii has a high ability to maintain a low concentration of Ni, and the ectomycorrhizal infection may have the positive effect of excluding Ni. As a result, P. glehnii is more tolerant than the other spruce species to serpentine soil conditions.