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Earthworms Eisenia fetida affect the uptake of heavy metals by plants Vicia faba and Zea mays in metal-contaminated soils

Abstract : Earthworms increase the availability of heavy metals in some situations and aid in maintaining the structure and quality of soil. The introduction of earthworms into metal-contaminated soils has been suggested as an aid for phytoremediation processes. In Wallonia, Belgium, a century of industrial metallurgic activities has led to the substantial pollution of soils by heavy metals, including copper (Cu), zinc (Zn), lead (Pb) and cadmium (Cd), due to atmospheric dusts. Two plant species, Vicia faba and Zea mays, and earthworms (Eisenia fetida) (Savigny, 1826) were exposed to different concentrations of long-term-contaminated soils for 42 days. The soil samples, which were collected from the land surrounding a former Zn-Pb ore-treatment plant, exhibited different levels of heavy metals. Our aim was to evaluate the role of earthworms E. fetida on the availability of metals in soils and their effects on metal uptake by V. faba and Z. mays plants at different soil concentrations. The results suggest that earthworms and plants modified the availability of metals in contaminated soils after 42 days of exposure. Earthworm life-cycle parameters were affected by metal contamination and/or the addition of plants; cocoon production and weight were more responsive to adverse conditions than earthworm survival or weight change. The concentrations of Pb and Cd in earthworm tissues decreased in the presence of plants. Results showed that metal accumulation in plants depended on the metal element considered and the presence of earthworms. However, the presence of earthworms did not change the concentrations of metals in plants, except for Cd. In the presence or absence of earthworms, V. faba accumulated higher concentrations of Cu and Zn compared with Z. mays, which accumulated higher concentrations of Cd. These findings have revealed that earthworm activities can modify the availability of heavy metals for uptake by plants in contaminated soils. Moreover, the study results show that the ecological context of phytoremediation should be broadened by considering earthworm-plant-soil interaction, which influence both the health of the plant and the uptake of heavy metals by plants
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Submitted on : Thursday, January 14, 2016 - 9:58:17 AM
Last modification on : Monday, April 29, 2019 - 2:30:48 PM

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Aboulkacem Lemtiri, Amandine Liénard, Taofic Alabi, Yves Brostaux, Daniel Cluzeau, et al.. Earthworms Eisenia fetida affect the uptake of heavy metals by plants Vicia faba and Zea mays in metal-contaminated soils. Applied Soil Ecology, Elsevier, 2016, 104, pp.67-78. ⟨10.1016/j.apsoil.2015.11.021⟩. ⟨hal-01255836⟩

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