Understanding how environmental pollutants influence plant occurrence, growth, and development is key for effective management plans and potential bioremediation. Rare plants, such as orchids, may occur in modified habitats and on soils containing heavy metals, yet their ecological and physiological responses to heavy metals is poorly understood. We investigated the influence of heavy metal pollution on orchid growth rates and interactions with soil fungal mutualists by comparing a large population of the orchid Epipactis helleborine (L.) Crantz subsp. tremolsii (Pau) E. Klein that grows on mine tailings in south-west Sardinia (Italy) with a population that grows on non-contaminated soils in central Sardinia. Soils of the contaminated site had high levels of heavy metals and low organic matter and nutritive elements content. We performed a morphological analysis on twenty individuals that have been subjected to measurement of bioaccumulation and translocation of heavy metals. Fungi associated with the roots of plants from the contaminated and uncontaminated site were grown and identified by DNA barcoding approach. Plants from the contaminated site were smaller than the ones growing in the uncontaminated site and were found to be able to tolerate heavy metals from the soil and to accumulate and translocate them into their organs. Fungi belonging to the genus Ilyonectria (Ascomycota) were found both in contaminated and uncontaminated sites, while an unidentified fungus was isolated from roots in the contaminated site only. These results are discussed in terms of orchids’ tolerance to heavy metals and its physiological and ecological mechanisms. The role of contaminated habitats in harbouring orchids and peculiar taxa is also discussed.

Heavy metal tolerance of orchid populations growing on abandoned mine tailings: A case study in Sardinia Island (Italy)

Antonio De Agostini
Primo
;
Claudia Caltagirone;Annalena Cogoni;Domenica Farci;Alessandra Garau;Michele Lussu;Dario Piano;Cinzia Sanna;Andrea Vacca;Pierluigi Cortis
Ultimo
2020-01-01

Abstract

Understanding how environmental pollutants influence plant occurrence, growth, and development is key for effective management plans and potential bioremediation. Rare plants, such as orchids, may occur in modified habitats and on soils containing heavy metals, yet their ecological and physiological responses to heavy metals is poorly understood. We investigated the influence of heavy metal pollution on orchid growth rates and interactions with soil fungal mutualists by comparing a large population of the orchid Epipactis helleborine (L.) Crantz subsp. tremolsii (Pau) E. Klein that grows on mine tailings in south-west Sardinia (Italy) with a population that grows on non-contaminated soils in central Sardinia. Soils of the contaminated site had high levels of heavy metals and low organic matter and nutritive elements content. We performed a morphological analysis on twenty individuals that have been subjected to measurement of bioaccumulation and translocation of heavy metals. Fungi associated with the roots of plants from the contaminated and uncontaminated site were grown and identified by DNA barcoding approach. Plants from the contaminated site were smaller than the ones growing in the uncontaminated site and were found to be able to tolerate heavy metals from the soil and to accumulate and translocate them into their organs. Fungi belonging to the genus Ilyonectria (Ascomycota) were found both in contaminated and uncontaminated sites, while an unidentified fungus was isolated from roots in the contaminated site only. These results are discussed in terms of orchids’ tolerance to heavy metals and its physiological and ecological mechanisms. The role of contaminated habitats in harbouring orchids and peculiar taxa is also discussed.
heavy metals; orchids; mycorrhiza; epipactis; soil pollution
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11584/280894
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