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Gradient differences in soil metal solubility and uptake by shoots and roots of wheat (T-aestivum)

Abstract

The aim of this research was to identify and quantify gaps in currents methods and models for predicting the plant availability of selected nutrient and contaminant metals (Cu, Ni, Zn, Cd) in soil. This study investigated relationships between the relative solubility of Cu, Ni, Zn, and Cd determined by six extraction methods with short-term uptake by shoots and roots of wheat (Triticum aestivum). For Cu, Ni, and Cd, relationships between solubility and plant uptake were found to be different for shoots and roots, with Cu and Ni solubility being more closely correlated with root uptake compared with shoot uptake. Correlation coefficients for Cd concentrations in shoot and root tissue for all six solubility methods were poor (r 2 < 0.5), while corresponding results for Zn explained more than 50 % of shoot variation but less than 50 % of root variation. Soil Cu solubility explained up to 85 % of variation in root uptake compared with 42–55 % for shoot uptake. These results clearly demonstrated that purely chemical and passive diffusion mechanisms were inadequate predictors of Cd uptake by shoots and roots, together with Cu uptake by shoots. Thus further attempts at refining soil metal bioavailability assays based solely on chemical extraction without consideration of plant responses are unlikely to improve prediction of plant uptake.

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