Survival strategies of plants associated with arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi on toxic mine tailings.

Research paper by H M HM Leung, Z H ZH Ye, M H MH Wong

Indexed on: 29 Jul '06Published on: 29 Jul '06Published in: Chemosphere


A field survey of metal concentrations and arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) components of plants growing on five mining sites was conducted in Chenzhou City, Hunan Province, Southern China and a control site in Hong Kong. Significant differences were observed in the average concentrations of total heavy metals (Pb, Zn, Cu, Cd) and one metalloid (As) in contaminated soils compared with the control site. Gramineae and Compositae were the dominant plant families growing on mine tailings, with Chrysanthemum moritolium (common chrysanthemum), Cynodon dactylon (Bermuda grass), Miscanthus florodulus (Sword grass) and Pteris vittata (Ladder brake fern) commonly found at all sites. AM fungal colonization was detected in most of the plants. Comparing the four common plant species, three components of mycorrhizal colonization (arbuscules, vesicles and coiled hyphae) were found in the roots of C. dactylon and P. vittata growing at Do Shun Long (DSL) mine site. Concentrations of As in fronds were 24-fold higher than in roots of P. vittata with the highest mycorrhizal colonization rate (73%) among all sampling sites. Extensive mycorrhizal colonization (85%) was also recorded in the roots of C. dactylon with As accumulation 57 times higher than in shoots. The four common plants found in metal contaminated sites had developed different strategies for survival in the contaminated sites with the aid of indigenous AM fungi.