Mechanisms of metal-phosphates formation in the rhizosphere soils of pea and tomato: environmental and sanitary consequences

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Austruy, A, Shahid, M, Xiong, T, Castrec, M, Payre, V, Niazi, NK, Sabir, M & Dumat, C 2014, 'Mechanisms of metal-phosphates formation in the rhizosphere soils of pea and tomato: Environmental and sanitary consequences', Journal of Soils and Sediments, vol. 14, no. 4, pp. 666-678.

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Purpose: At the global scale, soil contamination with persistent metals such as lead (Pb), zinc (Zn), and copper (Cu) induces a serious threat of entering the human food chain. In the recent past, different natural and synthetic compounds have been used to immobilize metals in soil environments. However, the mechanisms involved in amendment-induced immobilization of metals in soil remained unclear. The objective of the present work was therefore to determine the mechanisms involved in metal-phosphates formation in the rhizospheric soils of pea and tomato currently cultivated in kitchen gardens. Materials and methods: Pea and tomato were cultivated on a soil polluted by past industrial activities with Pb and Zn under two kinds of phosphate (P) amendments: (1) solid hydroxyapatite and (2) KH2PO4. The nature and quantities of metal-P formed in the rhizospheric soils were studied by using the selective chemical extractions and employing the combination of X-ray fluorescence micro-spectroscopy, scanning electron microscopy, and electron microprobe methods. Moreover, the influence of soil pH and organic acids excreted by plant roots on metal-P complexes formation was studied. Results and discussion: Our results demonstrated that P amendments have no effect on metal-P complex formation in the absence of plants. But, in the presence of plants, P amendments cause Pb and Zn immobilization by forming metal-P complexes. Higher amounts of metal-P were formed in the pea rhizosphere compared to the tomato rhizosphere and in the case of soluble P compared to the solid amendment. The increase in soil-metal contact time enhanced metal-P formation. Conclusions: The different forms of metal-P formed for the different plants under two kinds of P amendments indicate that several mechanisms are involved in metal immobilization. Metal-P complex formation in the contaminated soil depends on the type of P amendment added, duration of soil-plant contact, type of plant species, and excretion of organic acids by the plant roots in the rhizosphere.