Nature-inspired soluble iron-rich humic compounds: new look at the structure and properties
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Humic substances (HS) being natural polyelectrolyte macromolecules with complex and disordered molecular structures are a key component of the terrestrial ecosystem. They have remarkable influence on environmental behavior of iron, the essential nutrient for plants. They might be considered as environmental friendly iron deficiency correctors free of synthetic iron (III) chelates disadvantages. The main goal of this study was to obtain water-soluble iron-rich humic compounds (IRHCs) and to evaluate their efficiency as chlorosis correctors.
Materials and methods
A facile preparation technique of IRHCs based on low-cost and available parent material was developed. The iron-containing precursor (ferrous sulfate) was added dropwisely into alkaline potassium humate solution under vigorous stirring and pH-control. A detailed characterization both of organic and inorganic parts of the compounds was provided, the iron species identification was carried out jointly by EXAFS and Mössbauer spectroscopy. Bioassay experiments were performed using cucumber Cucumis sativus L. as target plants. Plants were grown in modified Hoagland nutrient solution, prepared on deionized water and containing iron in the form of IRHCs. Total iron content in dry plants measured by spectrophotometry after oxidative digestion and the chlorophyll a content determined after acetone extraction from fresh plant were used as parameters illustrating plants functional status under iron deficiency condition.
Results and discussion
The high solubility (up to130 g/l) and iron content (about 11 wt%) of the IRHCs obtained allow considering them to be perspective for practical applications. A set of analytical methods has shown that the main iron species in IRHCs are finely dispersed iron (III) oxide and hydroxide nanoparticles. An application of the precursor solution acidification allows to obtain compounds containing a significant part of total iron (up to 30 %) in the form of partly disordered iron (II–III) hydroxysulphate green rust GR(SO4 2−). Bioavailability of iron from IRHCs was demonstrated using bioassay in cucumber plants grown up on hydroponics under iron deficiency conditions.
The application of iron oxides chemistry for humic substance containing solution was proved to be an effective approach to synthesis of IRHCs. Using bioassay on cucumber plants C. sativus L. under iron deficiency conditions, the efficiency of compounds obtained as chlorosis correctors was demonstrated. Application of water-soluble IRHCs led to significant increase of chlorophyll a content (up to 415 % of the blank) and iron content in plants (up to 364 % of the blank) grown up on hydroponics.
KeywordsChlorosis Cucumber EXAFS Humic substances Iron deficiency Iron oxide nanoparticles Iron-rich fertilizers Mössbauer spectroscopy
The authors thank Dr. Boris N. Tarasevich and Sergey Shuvaev for their help and discussions. This research was supported by RFBR No. 10-03-00803, RFBR No. 11-03-12177, the Program of Development of MSU and the government contract no. 16.552.11.7055 of the Russian Ministry of Education and Science.
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