Accumulation and partitioning of rare earth elements in olive trees and extra virgin olive oil from Adriatic coastal region

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A potential of rare earth elements (including yttrium) (REY) accumulation in olives is increasing due to enhanced use of REY in human activities. REY transfer to extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) is little studied, and characterising the relationships between soil properties and REY concentrations in olive leaves, pomace and EVOO can enhance our understanding of soil-plant interactions.


Three different soil types (reclaimed karst, rendzina and cambisols), with the sum of REY concentrations (54–364 μg g−1) among the highest in European soils, were characterized for their pH, organic carbon, total carbonates and the applied agronomic practice. Aluminium, calcium, iron, phosphorus and REY were determined in soil (total and plant-available), olive leaves, pomace and EVOO.


REY were mainly excluded from plant uptake and only small amounts of REY were transferred to leaves (0.2–652 ng g−1), pomace (0.001–10 ng g−1) and EVOO (<0.5–33 pg g−1). Soil REY availability (0.001–1685 ng g−1) and plant uptake increased with increasing soil acidity. Leaf REY concentrations were mainly explained by plant-available REY and pH. There was an indication of enhanced REY plant availability being associated with low available phosphorus and soil ploughing.


Soil properties influence REY uptake and further partitioning to leaves, fruits and EVOO.

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We thank Anton Paar GmbH for providing a Multiwave GO microwave oven. The authors would like to thank Tomislav Sotinac, Frane Strikić, Blanka Anđelić and Silvia Milišić for their valuable help. We are grateful to Hélène Frérot-Pauwels for her prereview of the manuscript.

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This work was supported by the Unity through Knowledge Fund [“Role of soil properties and environmental conditions in elemental and isotopic composition of the olive: basis for oil geographic traceability”, no 23/15].

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Correspondence to Filip Pošćić.

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Pošćić, F., Žanetić, M., Fiket, Ž. et al. Accumulation and partitioning of rare earth elements in olive trees and extra virgin olive oil from Adriatic coastal region. Plant Soil (2020).

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  • Cambisols
  • Olive leaf
  • Pomace
  • Reclaimed karst
  • Rendzina
  • Terra rossa