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Glomalin-related soil protein (GRSP) in metal sequestration at Pb/Zn-contaminated sites



Glomalin-related soil protein (GRSP), secreted by arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF), contributes to heavy metal sequestration in polluted soils and sediments. The objective of this study was to investigate metal sequestration by GRSP associated with the plants Miscanthus sinensis, Cyperus rotundus, and Pteris vittata.

Materials and methods

A total of 45 rhizosphere soil and plant root samples were collected from three plants at two Pb/Zn mining polluted and non-polluted sites in China. Soil samples were analyzed for total and bioavailable heavy metal (Cr, Cu, Cd, Pb, Zn, As, Sb, and Ni) concentration, chemical properties (SOC, TN, TP, TS, Olsen-P, and available K), and GRSP concentration. The contribution of GRSP-bound metals and its sequestration potential were calculated to assess the metal sequestration ability of GRSP.

Results and discussion

Mycorrhizal root colonization of P. vittata was significantly higher than that of M. sinensis and C. rotundus at three sites. P. vittata also exhibited significantly more GRSP accumulation than the other two plants in soil. The significant negative correlation between GRSP and the combined indicators of eight bioavailable (r =  − 0.60, p < 0.001) or total (r =  − 0.39, p < 0.01) metals’ concentration was found. Averaged across the polluted sites, in P. vittata soil, GRSP showed a higher contribution to sequestering most heavy metals (Cu, Cd, Pb, Zn, As, Sb, and Ni), compared with that in M. sinensis and C. rotundus soil, although the sequestration potential descended in the order of C. rotundus > P. vittata > M. sinensis.


AMF-P. vittata symbiosis presented higher contribution to sequestering most metals by GRSP in the contaminated sites when compared with the plants M. sinensis and C. rotundus. This study sheds light on the ecological function of GRSP sequestration of metals associated with mycorrhizal plants, and its contribution to reducing metal bioavailability in polluted sites.

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Data availability

All data related to this publication are made available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.

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The study was funded by Guangdong Foundation for Program of Science and Technology Research (2020B1111530001), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (42107285), GDAS’ Project of Science and Technology Development (2019GDASYL-0103046, 2020GDASYL-20200102015, 2020GDASYL-20200103082, and 2019GDASYL-0301002), the Science and Technology Planning Project of Guangzhou (202002020072), and Guangdong Basic and Applied Basic Research Foundation (2019A1515011559).

Author information




Lang Qiu wrote the original draft, and Benru Song conceptualized and designed the study. Tianle Kong, Xiaoxu Sun, and Yanxu Zhang performed the experiment and data analysis. Hanzhi Lin, Weimin Sun, and Baoqin Li commented on and revised the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Baoqin Li.

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Qiu, L., Lin, H., Song, B. et al. Glomalin-related soil protein (GRSP) in metal sequestration at Pb/Zn-contaminated sites. J Soils Sediments (2021).

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  • Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi
  • Mycorrhizal colonization
  • GRSP-bound metal
  • Bioavailability
  • Heavy metal pollution