, Volume 33, Issue 1, pp 45–76 | Cite as

Metals (Fe, Mn, Zn) in the root plaque of submerged aquatic plants collected in situ: Relations with metal concentrations in the adjacent sediments and in the root tissue

  • Louise St-Cyr
  • Peter G. C. Campbell


We have investigated the extent of iron oxyhydroxide deposition on the roots of two common freshwater species, Vallisneria americana Michx. and Heteranthera dubia (Jacq.) MacM., collected from different sites in the St. Lawrence River, Québec, Canada, and have related metal concentrations in the root plaques both to the geochemical conditions prevailing in the host sediments (pH; metal partitioning) and to the metal concentrations within the plant root tissue. Possible effects of root plaque on sediment geochemistry are also discussed.

At those sites where the two submerged plants co-existed, the amounts of Fe deposited on their respective root surfaces were positively correlated, indicating that sediment geochemistry (pH; concentration of labile metal) exerted a more important influence on plaque formation than did inter-species differences (root physiology, morphology). Iron and Mn concentrations in the root plaque were positively correlated with each other, and with the readily extractable fractions (F1, 172) of these metals in the adjacent sediments. In contrast, Zn concentrations in the root plaque of V. americana were not related to Zn concentrations in the sediments — the dominant geochemical process at the root surface is Fe deposition, such that the quantities of Zn deposited on the roots are determined not by Zn geochemistry per se but rather by the amount of Fe deposition. Indeed the Zn/Fe ratios in the root plaque were related to the Zn/Fe ratios in the surrounding sediments (NH2OH•HCl extract).

On a concentration basis (μg/g), more Fe, Mn and Zn was found outside the root, in the iron plaque, than inside the root tissues. For all 3 metals, significant relationships were observed between the metal concentrations in the plaque and those inside the roots. For Zn, however, the best statistical relationship was not with [Zn]plaque, but rather with the [Zn]/[Fe] ratio in the plaque. It is hypothesized that the Zn/Fe ratio in the root plaque reflects the free Zn2+ concentration adjacent to the root surface, and that this in turn affects Zn uptake by the plant root. For a given value of Zn in the sediments or in the root plaque, the Zn content of the root is inversely related to the concentration of Fe oxyhydroxides, implying that Fe plays a protective role in regulating Zn bioavailability.

Key words

Fe iron plaque Mn Vallisneria americana Zn bioavailability 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Aguilera NH & Jackson ML (1953) Iron oxide removal from soils and clays. Soil Sci. Soc. Amer. Proc. 17: 359–364Google Scholar
  2. Armstrong W (1979) Aeration in higher plants. Adv. Bot. Res. 7: 225–332Google Scholar
  3. Armstrong W (1982) Waterlogged soils. In: Etherington JR (Eds) Environment and Plant Ecology (pp 290–330). Second edition. John Wiley & Sons, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  4. Belzile N, De Vitre RR & Tessier A (1989)In situ collection of diagenetic iron and manganese oxyhydroxides from natural sediments. Nature 340: 376–377Google Scholar
  5. Bienfait HF, Van den Briel ML & Mesland-Mul NT (1984) Measurement of the extracellular mobilizable iron pool in roots. J. Plant Nutr. 7: 659–665Google Scholar
  6. Campbell PGC & Tessier A (1991) Biological availability of metals in sediments: analytical approaches. In: Vernet JP (Ed) Heavy Metals in the Environment (pp 161–173). Elsevier Publ. B.V., AmsterdamGoogle Scholar
  7. Campbell PGC, Tessier A, Bisson M & Bougie R (1985) Accumulation of copper and zinc in the yellow water lily, Nuphar variegatum: relationships to metal partitioning in the adjacent lake sediments. Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 42: 23–32Google Scholar
  8. Carignan R & Kalff J (1980) Phosphorus sources for aquatic weeds: water or sediments? Science 207: 987–989Google Scholar
  9. Chen CC, Dixon JB & Turner FT (1980) Iron coatings on rice roots: mineralogy and quantity influencing factors. Soil Sci. Soc. Amer. J. 44: 635–639Google Scholar
  10. Chen RL & Barko JW (1988) Effects of freshwater macrophytes on sediment chemistry. J. Freshwat. Ecol. 4: 279–289Google Scholar
  11. Crowder AA & Macfie SM (1986) Seasonal deposition of ferric hydroxide plaque on roots of wetland plants. Can. J. Bot. 64: 2120–2124Google Scholar
  12. Crowder A & St-Cyr L (1991) Iron oxide plaques on wetland roots. Trends in Soil Sci. 1: 315–329Google Scholar
  13. Crowder AA, Macfie S, Conlin T, St-Cyr L & Greipsson S (1987) Iron hydroxide plaques on roots of wetland plants. In: Lindberg SE & Hutchinson TC (Eds). Proc. Int. Conf. Heavy Metals in the Environment Vol 1 (pp 404–406). New Orleans. CEP Consultants Ltd Publ, EdinburghGoogle Scholar
  14. Denny P (1980) Solute movement in submerged angiosperms. Biol. Rev. 55: 65–92Google Scholar
  15. Engelaar WMHG, Van Bruggen MW, Van den Hoek WPM, Huyser MAH & Blom CWPM (1993) Root porosities and radial oxygen losses of Rumex and Plantago species as influenced by soil pore diameter and soil aeration. New Phytol. 125: 565–574Google Scholar
  16. Fortin D, Leppard GG & Tessier A (1993) Characteristics of lacustrine diagenetic iron oxyhydroxides. Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 57: 4391–4404Google Scholar
  17. Gambrell RP & Patrick WH Jr (1978) Chemical and microbiological properties of anaerobic soils and sediments. In: Hook DD & Crawford RMM (Eds) Plant life in Anaerobic Environments (pp 375–423). Ann Arbor Science Publishers, Ann ArborGoogle Scholar
  18. Good BJ & Patrick WH Jr (1987) Root-water-sediment interface processes. In: Reddy KR & Smith WH (Eds) Aquatic Plants for Water Treatment and Resource Recovery (pp 359–371). Magnolia Publishing IncGoogle Scholar
  19. Howeler RH (1973) Iron-induced oranging disease of rice in relation to physico-chemical changes in a flooded oxisol. Soil Sci. Soc. Amer. Proc. 37: 898–903Google Scholar
  20. Hudson RJM & Morel FMM (1989) Distinguishing between extra- and intra-cellular iron in marine phytoplankton. Limnol. Oceanogr. 34: 1113–1120Google Scholar
  21. Huerta-Diaz MA, Carignan R & Tessier A (1993) Géochimie d'éléments traces dans les sédiments des lacs Saint-Louis et Saint-Françcois, fleuve Saint-Laurent. Final report submitted to Centre Saint-Laurent, Environment Canada, Montreal. 99 pGoogle Scholar
  22. Jaynes ML & Carpenter SR (1986) Effects of vascular and nonvascular macrophytes on sediment redox and solute dynamics. Ecology 67: 875–882Google Scholar
  23. Jenne EA (1977) Trace element sorption by sediments and soils — sites and processes. In: Chappell WR & Petersen KK (Eds) Molybdenum in the Environment (pp 425–553). Volume 2. Marcel Dekker, Inc., New YorkGoogle Scholar
  24. Jenne EA, Ball JW & Simpson C (1974) Determination of trace metals in sodium-dithionitecitrate extracts of soils and sediments by atomic absorption. J. Environ. Qual. 3: 281–287Google Scholar
  25. Jolicoeur P (1991) Introduction à la Biométrie. Éditions Décarie Inc. Mont-Royal, Québec, 300 pGoogle Scholar
  26. Kock MS & Mendelssohn IA (1989) Sulphide as a soil phytotoxin: differential responses in two marsh species. J. Ecol. 77: 565–578Google Scholar
  27. Levan MA & Riha SJ (1986) The precipitation of black oxide coatings on flooded conifer roots of low internal porosity. Plant and Soil 95: 33–42Google Scholar
  28. Macfie SM & Crowder AA (1987) Soil factors influencing ferric hydroxide plaque formation on roots of Typha latifolia L. Plant and Soil 102: 177–184Google Scholar
  29. McLaughlin BE, Van Loon GW & Crowder AA (1985) Comparison of selected washing treatments on Agrostis gigantea samples from mine tailings near Copper Cliff, Ontario, before analysis for Cu, Ni, Fe and K content. Plant and Soil 85: 433–436Google Scholar
  30. Morel FMM & Hering J (1993) Principles of Aquatic Chemistry. Second Edition. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  31. Otte ML, Buijs EP, Riemer L, Rozema J & Broekman RA (1987) The iron-plaque on the roots of saltmarsh plants: a barrier to heavy metal uptake? In: Lindberg SE & Hutchinson TC (Eds). Proc. Int. Conf. Heavy Metals in the Environment Vol 1 (pp 407–409). New Orleans. CEP Consultants Ltd Publ, EdinburghGoogle Scholar
  32. Otte ML, Rozema J, Koster L, Haarsma MS & Broekman RA (1989) Iron plaque on roots of Aster tripolium L.: interaction with Zn uptake. New Phytol. 111: 309–317Google Scholar
  33. Outridge PM & Noller BN (1991) Accumulation of toxic trace elements by freshwater vascular plants. Rev. Environ. Contam. Toxicol. 121: 1–63Google Scholar
  34. Peech M (1965) Hydrogen-ion activity. In: Black CA, Evans DD, White JL, Ensminger LE & Clark FE (Eds) Methods of Soil Analysis. Part two: Chemical and Microbiological Properties (pp 914–926). Amer. Soc. Agron., MadisonGoogle Scholar
  35. Ponnamperuma FN (1972) The chemistry of submerged soils. Adv. Agron. 24: 29–96Google Scholar
  36. Rapin F, Tessier A, Campbell PGC & Carignan R (1986) Potential artifacts in the determination of metal partitioning in sediments by a sequential extraction procedure. Environ. Sci. Technol. 20: 836–840Google Scholar
  37. Sand-Jensen K, Prahl C & Stokholm H (1982) Oxygen release from roots of submerged aquatic macrophytes. Oikos 38: 349–354Google Scholar
  38. St-Cyr L & Crowder AA (1987) Relation between Fe, Mn, Cu and Zn in root plaque and leaves of Phragmites australis. In: Lindberg SE & Hutchinson TC (Eds). Proc. Int. Conf. Heavy Metals in the Environment Vol 1 (pp 466–468). New Orleans. CEP Consultants Ltd Publ, EdinburghGoogle Scholar
  39. St-Cyr L & Crowder AA (1988) Iron oxide deposits on the roots of Phragmites australis related to the iron bound to carbonates in the soil. J. Plant Nutr. 11: 1253–1261Google Scholar
  40. St-Cyr L & Crowder AA (1989) Factors affecting iron plaque on the roots of Phragmites australis (Cav.) Trin. ex Steudel. Plant and Soil 116: 85–93Google Scholar
  41. St-Cyr L & Crowder AA (1990) Manganese and copper in the root plaque of Phragmites australis (Cav.) Trin. ex Steudel. Soil Sci. 149: 191–198Google Scholar
  42. St-Cyr L, Fortin D & Campbell PGC (1993) Microscopic observations of the iron plaque of a submerged aquatic plant. Aquat. Bot. 46: 155–167Google Scholar
  43. St-Cyr L, Campbell PGC & Guertin K (1994) Evaluation of the role of submerged plant beds in the trace metal budget of a fluvial lake. Hydrobiologia 291: 141–156Google Scholar
  44. Taylor GJ & Crowder AA (1983a) Use of the DCB technique for extraction of hydrous iron oxides from roots of wetland plants. Amer. J. Bot. 70: 1254–1257Google Scholar
  45. Taylor GJ & Crowder AA (1983b) Uptake and accumulation of copper, nickel and iron by Typha latifolia L. grown in solution culture. Can. J. Bot. 61: 1825–1830Google Scholar
  46. Tessenow U & Baynes Y (1975) Redox-dependent accumulation of Fe and Mn in a littoral sediment supporting Isoetes lacustris L. Naturwissenschaften 62: 342–343Google Scholar
  47. Tessenow U & Baynes Y (1978) Experimental effects of Isoetes lacustris L. on the distribution of Eh, pH, Fe and Mn in lake sediment. Verh. Internat. Verein. Limnol. 20: 2358–2362Google Scholar
  48. Tessier A (1992) Sorption of trace elements on natural particles in oxic environments. In: Buffle J & Van Leeuwen HP (Eds) Environmental Particles. Environmental Analytical and Physical Chemistry Series (pp 425–443) Lewis Publishers, Boca RatonGoogle Scholar
  49. Tessier A & Campbell PGC (1991) Comments on "Pitfalls of sequential extractions" by Nirel PMV & Morel FMM. Wat. Res. 25: 115–117Google Scholar
  50. Tessier A, Campbell PGC & Bisson M (1982) Particulate trace metal speciation in stream sediments and relationships with grain size: Implications for geochemical exploration. J. Geochem. Explor. 16: 77–104Google Scholar
  51. Tessier A, Campbell PGC & Bisson M (1979) Sequential extraction procedure for the speciation of particulate trace metals. Anal. Chem. 51: 844–851Google Scholar
  52. Tessier A, Carignan R, Dubreuil B & Rapin F (1989) Partitioning of zinc between the water column and the oxic sediments in lakes. Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 53: 1511–1522Google Scholar
  53. Tessier A, Couillard Y, Campbell PGC & Auclair JC (1993) Modeling Cd partitioning in oxic lake sediments and Cd concentrations in the freshwater bivalve Anodonta grandis. Limnol. Oceanogr. 38: 1–17Google Scholar
  54. Thursby GB (1984) Root-exuded oxygen in the aquatic angiosperm Ruppia maritima. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 16: 303–305Google Scholar
  55. Wigand C (1994) The ecological significance of micorrhizal fungi in Vallisneria americana (Michx) in the Upper Chesapeake Bay (MD). PhD Thesis, The University of Maryland, College Park, MD, 135 pGoogle Scholar
  56. Williams WT & Barber DA (1961) The functional significance of aerenchyma in plants. Symp. Soc. Exp. Biol. 15: 132–144Google Scholar
  57. Wium-Andersen S & Andersen JM (1972) The influence of vegetation on the redox profile of the sediment of Grane Langso, a Danish Lobellia lake. Limnol. Oceanogr. 17: 948–952Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Louise St-Cyr
    • 1
  • Peter G. C. Campbell
    • 1
  1. 1.INRS-EauUniversité du QuébecSte-FoyCanada

Personalised recommendations