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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The roles of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) in phytoremediation and tree-herb interactions in Pb contaminated soil

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Understanding the roles of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) in plant interaction is essential for optimizing plant distribution to restore degraded ecosystems. This study investigated the effects of AMF and the presence of legume or grass herbs on phytoremediation with a legume tree, Robinia pseudoacacia, in Pb polluted soil. In monoculture, mycorrhizal dependency of legumes was higher than that of grass, and AMF benefited the plant biomass of legumes but had no effect on grass. Mycorrhizal colonization of plant was enhanced by legume neighbors but inhibited by grass neighbor in co-culture system. N, P, S and Mg concentrations of mycorrhizal legumes were larger than these of non-mycorrhizal legumes. Legume herbs decreased soil pH and thereby increased the Pb concentrations of plants. The neighbor effects of legumes shifted from negative to positive with increasing Pb stress levels, whereas grass provided a negative effect on the growth of legume tree. AMF enhanced the competition but equalized growth of legume-legume under unpolluted and Pb stress conditions, respectively. In conclusion, (1) AMF mediate plant interaction through directly influencing plant biomass, and/or indirectly influencing plant photosynthesis, macronutrient acquisition, (2) legume tree inoculated with AMF and co-planted with legume herbs provides an effective way for Pb phytoremediation.

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