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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract - Ecosystem Restoration

Role of Mycorrhizal Fungi and Phosphorus in the Arsenic Tolerance of Basin Wildrye


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 32 No. 6, p. 2001-2006
    Received: Aug 23, 2002

    * Corresponding author(s): thd@forestry.umt.edu
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  1. J. A. Knudsona,
  2. T. Meikleb and
  3. T. H. DeLuca *a
  1. a Department of Ecosystem and Conservation Sciences, College of Forestry and Conservation, The University of Montana, Missoula, MT 59812
    b Bitterroot Restoration, Inc., 445 Quast Lane, Corvallis, MT 59828


Revegetation of arsenic (As)-rich mine spoils is often impeded by the lack of plant species tolerant of high As concentrations and low nutrient availability. Basin wildrye [Leymus cinereus (Scribner & Merr.) A. Löve] has been observed to establish naturally in soils with elevated As content and thus may be useful for the stabilization of As-contaminated soils. An experiment was conducted to evaluate how variable phosphorus (P) concentrations and inoculation with site-specific arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi influence As tolerance of basin wildrye. Basin wildrye was grown in sterile sand in the greenhouse for 16 weeks. Pots of sterile sand were amended to create one of four rates of As (0, 3, 15, or 50 mg As kg−1), two rates of P (3 or 15 mg P kg−1), and ±mycorrhizal inoculation in a 2 × 4 × 2 factorial arrangement. After 16 weeks of growth, plants were harvested, shoots and roots thoroughly washed, and the tissue analyzed for total shoot biomass, total root and shoot As and P concentrations, and degree of mycorrhizal infection. Basin wildrye was found to be tolerant of high As concentrations allowing for vigorous plant growth at application levels of 3 or 15 mg As kg−1 Arsenic was sequestered in the roots, with 30 to 50 times more As in the roots than shoots under low P conditions. Mycorrhizal infection did not confer As tolerance in basin wildrye nor did mycorrhizal fungi influence biomass production. Phosphorus concentrations of 15 mg kg−1 effectively inhibited As accumulation in basin wildrye. Basin wildrye has the potential to be used for stabilization of As-rich soils while minimizing exposure to grazing animals following reclamation.

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