Regular Article

Plant and Soil

, Volume 332, Issue 1, pp 369-385

First online:

Species adaptation in serpentine soils in Lesbos Island (Greece): metal hyperaccumulation and tolerance

  • Elena KazakouAffiliated withMontpellier SupAgro, UMR Centre d’Ecologie Fonctionnelle et Evolutive, CNRS UMR 5175 Email author 
  • , George C. AdamidisAffiliated withBiodiversity Conservation Laboratory, Department of Environment, University of the Aegean
  • , Alan J. M. BakerAffiliated withSchool of Botany, The University of Melbourne
  • , Roger D. ReevesAffiliated withSchool of Botany, The University of Melbourne
  • , Malinda GodinoAffiliated withSchool of Botany, The University of Melbourne
  • , Panayiotis G. DimitrakopoulosAffiliated withBiodiversity Conservation Laboratory, Department of Environment, University of the Aegean

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Abstract

Serpentine (ultramafic) soils, containing relatively high nickel and other metal concentrations, present a stressful environment for plant growth but also a preferred substrate for some plants which accumulate nickel in their tissues. In the present study we focused on: (1) the relationships between serpentine soils of Lesbos Island (Greece) and serpentinophilic species in order to test their adaptation to the ‘serpentine syndrome’, and (2) the Ni-hyperaccumulation capacity of Alyssum lesbiacum, a serpentine endemic, Ni-hyperaccumulating species, recorded over all its distribution for the first time. We sampled soil and the most abundant plant species from the four serpentine localities of Lesbos Island. Soil and leaf elemental concentrations were measured across all the sites. Our results confirmed our hypothesis that serpentinophilic species are adapted to elevated heavy metal soil concentrations but restricting heavy metal concentration in their leaves. We demonstrated that different A. lesbiacum populations from Lesbos Island present differences in Ni hyperaccumulation according to soil Ni availability. Our results highlighted the understanding of serpentine ecosystems through an extensive field study in an unexplored area. Alyssum lesbiacum and Thlaspi ochroleucum emerge as two strong Ni hyperaccumulators with the former having a high potential for phytoextraction purposes.

Keywords

Alyssum lesbiacum Heavy metals Lesbos Nickel hyperaccumulation Thlaspi ochroleucum Ultramafic soils