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Changes in physicochemical characteristics of a serpentine soil and in root architecture of a hyperaccumulating plant cropped with a legume

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Abstract

Purpose

Agromining is a new technology that establishes agricultural systems on ultramafic soils in order to produce valuable metal compounds such as nickel (Ni), with the final aim of restoring a soil’s agricultural functions. But ultramafic soils are characterized by low fertility levels, and this can limit yields of hyperaccumulators and metal phytoextraction. The objectives of the present work were to test if the association of a hyperaccumulating plant (Alyssum murale) and a Fabaceae (Vicia sativa var. Prontivesa) could induce changes in physicochemical characteristics of a serpentine soil and in root architecture of a hyperaccumulating plant then lead to efficient agromining practices through soil quality improvement.

Materials and methods

Based on standard agricultural systems, consisting in the association of legumes and another crop such as wheat or rape, a 3-month rhizobox experiment was carried out to study the effect of the co-cropping (Co) or rotation (Ro) of a hyperaccumulating plant (A. murale) with a legume (Vicia sativa) and incorporating legume biomass to soil, in comparison with mineral fertilization (FMo), on the structure and physicochemical properties of an ultramafic soil and on root architecture.

Results and discussion

All parameters measured (biomass, C and N contents, and Ni taken up) on A. murale conducted in Co showed the highest values followed by FMo and Ro (Co > FMo > Ro), except for root Ni yield for which Ro was better than FMo. The rhizosphere soil of A. murale in co-cropping had larger soil particles size and better aggregate stability than other treatments. Using geostatistics, co-cropped Alyssum showed a greater root surface area spatial distribution. Moreover, co-cropping and rotation induced lower soil diethylene triamine pentaacetic acid-extractable Ni concentrations than other treatments, but higher pH values. A. murale co-cropped with a legume showed a higher biomass production, improved soil physical characteristics, and enhanced Ni phytoextraction.

Conclusions

Consequently, legume introduction in Ni-agromining systems could be an innovative strategy to reduce chemical inputs and to improve soil functions.

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Acknowledgements

We would like to acknowledge the technical team of “Laboratoire Sols et Environnement” especially Mr. Lucas Charrois, Mr. Romain Goudon, Mr. Stéphane Colin, and Mr. Alain Rakoto for their help and support. We are thankful for the technical assistance of the joint research unit INRA of Champenoux, UMR 1092 AgroParisTech INRA Laboratoire d’Etude des ressources FOrêt Bois “LERFoB” Plate-forme Technique Xylosciences especially Mrs. Charline Freyburger for the X-ray analysis. We are thankful for the technical assistance of the joint research unit Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC, Santiago de Compostella, Spain) especially the “Soil Microbiology Group” represented by Dr. Petra Kidd. We would like to thank also Dr. Ali Kanso for his support in the laser diffraction granulometry analyses. Finally, we are thankful to the Association of Specialization and Scientific Guidance (ASSG, Lebanon) for funding the PhD scholarship of Ramez Saad.

Funding

This work was supported by the French National Research Agency through the national “Investissements d’avenir” program, reference ANR-10-LABX-21-LABEX RESSOURCES21 and through the ANR-14-CE04-0005 project “Agromine”.

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Correspondence to Emile Benizri.

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Responsible editor: Dong-Mei Zhou

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Saad, R.F., Kobaissi, A., Amiaud, B. et al. Changes in physicochemical characteristics of a serpentine soil and in root architecture of a hyperaccumulating plant cropped with a legume. J Soils Sediments 18, 1994–2007 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11368-017-1903-1

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Keywords

  • Alyssum murale
  • Plant association
  • Co-cropping
  • Hyperaccumulating plant
  • Legume
  • Rotation
  • Serpentine soil
  • Soil physicochemical properties