Plant and Soil

, 317:201 | Cite as

Soil influence on Cu and Co uptake and plant size in the cuprophytes Crepidorhopalon perennis and C. tenuis (Scrophulariaceae) in SC Africa

  • M-P. Faucon
  • G. Colinet
  • G. Mahy
  • M. Ngongo Luhembwe
  • N. Verbruggen
  • P. Meerts
Regular Article


Cuprophytes are plants that mostly occur on Cu-rich soil in SC Africa. Crepidorhopalon perennis is endemic of a single site. C. tenuis has a broader niche, from normal to Cu-rich soil. Both have been considered as Cu-Co accumulators. We examined soil factors controlling heavy metal accumulation and plant fitness in natural populations. Plant mass and element concentrations in plants and soil were determined in 153 samples from five populations of C. tenuis on copper soil (CTC), two on normal soil (CTN) and the single population of C. perennis (CP). Soil in Cu-sites had higher concentrations of Ca, Mg, P, Mn, Zn, Cu, Co. Plants from Cu-sites were larger and had higher Cu and Co content, and lower Mg, Mn and Ca. Cu in shoots was influenced positively by Cu and Mn and negatively by Ca in the soil. Co in shoots was influenced positively by Co and negatively by Mn and Fe in the soil. Shoot mass was influenced positively by Cu and Mn (CT) or by Cu and Co (both species pooled) in the soil. The results suggest that C. tenuis and C. perennis are genuinely cuprophilous species. Large variation in metal accumulation in shoots can be accounted for by synergistic and antagonistic interactions among several heavy metals, yielding specific accumulation patterns in different populations.


Copper Cobalt Manganese Metallophyte Hyperaccumulation 



The authors are grateful to François Malaisse for indicating locations of populations of Crepidorhopalon tenuis, to Wolf Gruber for mineral element analyses and Mylor Shutcha, Emile Kisimba, Bruno Mongoli and the staff of the Faculté d’Agronomie of the Université de Lubumbashi (Democratic Republic of Congo) for their invaluable assistance. Michel-Pierre Faucon is a research fellow of the FRIA. Financial support from the FNRS, the Université Libre de Bruxelles (Fonds Cambier) and the Coopération universitaire au Développement (CUD) is also gratefully acknowledged.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • M-P. Faucon
    • 1
  • G. Colinet
    • 2
  • G. Mahy
    • 3
  • M. Ngongo Luhembwe
    • 4
  • N. Verbruggen
    • 5
  • P. Meerts
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratoire de Génétique et Ecologie végétalesUniversité Libre de BruxellesBruxellesBelgium
  2. 2.Laboratoire de géopédologieUnité Sol-Ecologie-Territoire- Faculté des Sciences Agronomiques de GemblouxGemblouxBelgium
  3. 3.Laboratoire d’écologieUnité Sol-Ecologie-Territoire- Faculté des Sciences Agronomiques de GemblouxGemblouxBelgium
  4. 4.Faculté des Sciences AgronomiquesUniversité de LubumbashiLubumbashiDemocratic Republic of Congo
  5. 5.Laboratoire de Physiologie et de Génétique moléculaire des PlantesUniversité Libre de BruxellesBruxellesBelgium

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