Plant and Soil

, Volume 293, Issue 1–2, pp 49–59 | Cite as

Responses to Mg/Ca balance in an Iranian serpentine endemic plant, Cleome heratensis (Capparaceae) and a related non-serpentine species, C. foliolosa

  • T. Asemaneh
  • S. M. GhaderianEmail author
  • A. J. M. Baker
Original Paper


A soil Ca/Mg quotient greater than unity is generally considered necessary for normal plant growth but some serpentine plants are adapted to much lower Ca/Mg quotients, resulting from a major cation imbalance in their substrata. In order to investigate the growth and tolerance responses of serpentine and non-serpentine species to varied Ca/Mg quotients, controlled nutrient solution experiments were performed using an a newly reported Iranian endemic serpentine plant, Cleome heratensis Bunge et Bien. Ex Boiss. and a related non-serpentine species Cleome foliolosa DC. and a Eurasian Ni-hyperaccumulating species Alyssum murale Waldst. and Kit. Seedlings were grown in modified Hoagland’s solutions with varying Ca and Mg concentrations (0.2–2.5 and 0.5–10 mM, respectively) in a fully factorial randomised block design. The yields of the two serpentine plants increased significantly as Mg concentrations in the nutrient solution were increased from 0.5 to 4 mM but decreased in the 10 mM Mg treatment. For C. foliolosa yields decreased significantly from 0.5 to 10 mM Mg, indicating the sensitivity of this non-serpentine plant, and the relative tolerance of the serpentine plants to extremely high levels of Mg. Shoot and root Mg and Ca concentrations in C. heratensis and A. murale were higher than those in C. foliolosa in the low and moderate Mg treatments, supporting the view that many serpentine plants have a relatively high requirement for Mg. Maximum Mg concentrations were found in the roots of C. heratensis. Yields of C. heratensis and A. murale did not change significantly as Ca levels in nutrient solution increased from 0.2 to 2.5 mM Ca, However the yield of C. foliolosa increased significantly from 0.2 to 1.5 mM Ca, indicating sensitivity in this non-serpentine plant and tolerance of the two serpentine plants to low levels of Ca correlated with tissue Ca concentrations, probably because of a greater ability for Ca uptake at low-Ca availability. Calcium deficiency in the low-Ca treatments could be a reason for reduced yield in the non-serpentine plants.


Calcium Cleome heratensis Magnesium/calcium balance Serpentine tolerance 



A scholarship to the senior author from the Ministry of Science, Research and Technology of Iran (MSRT) and Yasuj and Isfahan Universities is gratefully acknowledged.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • T. Asemaneh
    • 1
    • 2
  • S. M. Ghaderian
    • 1
    Email author
  • A. J. M. Baker
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity of IsfahanIsfahanIran
  2. 2.School of BotanyUniversity of MelbourneParkvilleAustralia

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