Environmental Monitoring and Assessment

, Volume 186, Issue 10, pp 6553–6564 | Cite as

Comparison of diffusive gradients in thin film technique with traditional methods for evaluation of zinc bioavailability in soils

  • Qin SunEmail author
  • Jing Chen
  • Shiming Ding
  • Yu Yao
  • Yifei Chen


The technique of diffusive gradients in thin film (DGT) has been shown to be a promising tool to assess zinc (Zn) bioavailability in soils, but there exists considerable debate on its suitability. In this study, Zn bioavailability was systematically investigated in wheat- and maize-grown soils using this technique and seven traditional methods, including soil solution concentration and six widely used single-step extraction methods (HAc, EDTA, NaAc, NH4Ac, CaCl2, and MgCl2). The concentrations of Zn in the shoots and roots of these two plant species increased continuously with increasing additions of Zn to the soils, accompanied by significant decreases in shoot biomass and root biomass at Zn concentrations greater than 400 mg kg−1 for maize and 800 mg kg−1 for wheat. Zinc uptake and accumulation was higher in maize roots than in wheat roots. Both the concentrations of bioavailable Zn measured by DGT (C DGT) and soil solutions (C sol) increased linearly with increasing additions of Zn to the soils, while no strong linear relationships were observed for the extraction methods. Higher concentrations of extractable Zn, lower values of C sol, and larger values of R (i.e., the ratio of C DGT to C sol) were observed in maize-grown soils compared with those of wheat-grown soils, while the values of C DGT between the two plants were similar. These findings demonstrate that there likely exists a stronger resupply of Zn from the soil solid phases in maize-grown soils to satisfy a higher Zn uptake and accumulation in this plant. Linear correlation analyses showed that C DGT had the highest correlation coefficients with plant Zn concentrations compared with other traditional methods, implying that the DGT technique is more sensitive and robust in reflecting Zn bioavailability in soils to plants.


DGT Extraction method Soil solution Zinc bioavailability Wheat Maize Soil 



This study was sponsored by the National Natural Scientific Foundation of China (Nos. 41001334 and 41322011) and the Project of Knowledge Innovation for the 3rd period, the Chinese Academy of Sciences (No. KZCX2-YW-JS304).


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Qin Sun
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jing Chen
    • 1
  • Shiming Ding
    • 2
  • Yu Yao
    • 1
  • Yifei Chen
    • 1
  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Integrated Regulation and Resource Development on Shallow Lakes, Ministry of Education, College of EnvironmentHohai UniversityNanjingPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.State Key Laboratory of Lake Science and Environment, Nanjing Institute of Geography and LimnologyChinese Academy of SciencesNanjingPeople’s Republic of China

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