Relationship between metal speciation in soil solution and metal adsorption at the root surface of ryegrass

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The total metal content of the soil or total metal concentration in the soil solution is not always a good indicator for metal availability to plants. Therefore, several speciation techniques have been developed that measure a defined fraction of the total metal concentration in the soil solution. In this study the Donnan Membrane Technique (DMT) was used to measure free metal ion concentrations in CaCl2 extractions (to mimic the soil solution, and to work under standardized conditions) of 10 different soils, whereas diffusive gradients in thin-films (DGT) and scanning chronopotentiometry (SCP) were used to measure the sum of free and labile metal concentrations in the CaCl2 extracts. The DGT device was also exposed directly to the (wetted) soil (soil-DGT). The metal concentrations measured with the speciation techniques are related to the metal adsorption at the root surface of ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.), to be able to subsequently predict metal uptake. In most cases the metal adsorption related pH-dependently to the metal concentrations measured by DMT, SCP, and DGT in the CaCl2 extract. However, the relationship between metal adsorption at the root surface and the metal concentrations measured by the soil-DGT was not—or only slightly—pH dependent. The correlations between metal adsorption at the root surface and metal speciation detected by different speciation techniques allow discussion about rate limiting steps in biouptake and the contribution of metal complexes to metal bioavailability.

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