Do arsenate reductase activities and oxalate exudation contribute to variations of arsenic accumulation in populations of Pteris vittata?

  • Fuyong Wu
  • Feifei Xu
  • Xiaona Ma
  • Wanqing Luo
  • Laiqing Lou
  • Ming Hung Wong
Soils, Sec 1 • Soil Organic Matter Dynamics and Nutrient Cycling • Research Article



Although arsenic (As) hyperaccumulation is a constitutive property for Pteris vittata, there is intraspecific variation in As accumulation among metallicolous (from As-contaminated soils) and nonmetallicolous populations (from uncontaminated soils) and the related mechanisms is still not clear.

Materials and methods

Pot trials, hydroponic culture, and manual simulation were conducted to investigate the roles of arsenate reductase and root exudates in accumulating As in P. vittata, which were collected from two uncontaminated sites including Sun Yat-sen University campus, Guangdong Province (ZD), and a botanical garden in Guangxi Academy of Forestry Sciences, Nanning City, Guangxi Province (NN), and two As and Pb/Zn mining and/or smelting sites located in Shaoguan of Guangdong Province (SG) and Guiyang of Hunan Province (GY).

Results and discussion

The nonmetallicolous populations (ZD and NN) possessed more efficient uptake of arsenate and arsenite than the metallicolous populations (SG and GY). There were significant (p < 0.05) difference in arsenate reductase activities in roots among the four populations of P. vittata and that the higher arsenate reductase activities were recorded in the nonmetallicolous populations (110 nkat mg−1 protein for ZD, 160 nkat mg−1 protein for NN) compared with the metallicolous populations (62.9 nkat mg−1 protein for SG, 78.1 nkat mg−1 protein for GY). Root exudates from the nonmetallicolous population (NN) and the metallicolous population (GY) of P. vittata contained similar compositions of organic acids including oxalic, malic, and succinic acids, of which oxalate were dominant (> 67%). The NN population exuded 4.23 times more oxalate than the SG population. Root exudates from the NN population mobilized significantly (p < 0.05) more As from As-contaminated soils than those from the SG population, of which oxalate had the most effective in As mobilization.


The present study suggests that higher arsenate reductase activities and oxalate exudation in the nonmetallicolous populations may play an important role in increasing their efficiency in phytoremediation of As-contaminated soils.


Arsenate reductase Arsenic species Chinese brake fern Intraspecific variation Oxalate secretion 



The present work was supported by Natural Science Basic Research Plan in Shaanxi Province of China (Program No. 2016JM4004) and Chinese Universities Scientific Fund (Program No. 2452015179), and the Scientific Research Foundation for the Introduction of Talent, Northwest A&F University, China (2014), is gratefully acknowledged.

Supplementary material

11368_2018_1987_MOESM1_ESM.docx (19 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 19 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Natural Resources and EnvironmentNorthwest A&F UniversityYanglingPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Key Laboratory of Plant Nutrition and the Agri-environment in Northwest ChinaMinistry of AgricultureYanglingPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.College of Life SciencesNanjing Agricultural UniversityNanjingPeople’s Republic of China
  4. 4.Consortium on Health, Environment, Education and Research (CHEER)Education University of Hong KongHong KongPeople’s Republic of China

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