Enhancing Plant Survival in Antimony-Polluted Soil Using Fungi and Olive Waste

Jenn Hoskins
5th May, 2024

Enhancing Plant Survival in Antimony-Polluted Soil Using Fungi and Olive Waste

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • Study conducted on oats shows high soil antimony (Sb) harms plant growth and health
  • Adding fungi (AMF) and olive waste (OMW) to soil helps oats cope with Sb toxicity
  • Combined AMF and OMW treatment most effective in boosting oat growth under Sb stress
In recent years, the presence of antimony (Sb) in the environment has become a growing concern, especially given its potential toxicity to both ecosystems and human health. Sb is a heavy metal that can find its way into soils through natural processes like the weathering of minerals and human activities such as mining and industrial processes. Once in the soil, Sb can be taken up by plants, entering the food chain and posing risks to public health. A new study from Jouf University[1] has examined how oat plants respond to Sb contamination and explored innovative methods to alleviate its harmful effects using a biological approach. The study focused on the biochemical and physiological responses of oats when exposed to high levels of Sb in the soil. It tested the use of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) and olive mill waste (OMW) to mitigate the negative impacts of Sb. AMF are beneficial soil organisms that form symbiotic relationships with most plant roots, aiding in nutrient absorption, while OMW is a byproduct of olive oil production that can improve soil quality and plant growth. Researchers applied two treatments to soil with varying Sb concentrations: a commercial strain of AMF known as Rhizophagus irregularis and OMW at a concentration of 4% by weight. They then analyzed how these treatments affected the uptake of Sb by oat plants and their overall health. The results showed that both AMF and OMW had a mitigating effect on the Sb toxicity in oats. These findings align with earlier studies that have demonstrated the potential of AMF to assist in the phytoremediation of Sb-contaminated sites[2] and the role of biofertilizers in influencing the mobility and bioaccessibility of Sb in crops[3]. Moreover, the study contributes to the ongoing research on the biogeochemistry of Sb and the development of remediation strategies for Sb-polluted environments[4]. The methods used in the study are significant because they offer a sustainable and eco-friendly approach to managing heavy metal contamination in soils. The use of AMF is particularly promising, as these fungi are naturally occurring and can enhance the resilience of plants to environmental stressors. This symbiotic relationship can also improve the soil structure and fertility, providing long-term benefits for agricultural land. The research also sheds light on the importance of understanding the various forms and behaviors of Sb in the environment. Different chemical species of Sb have different levels of toxicity and mobility in the soil, which can affect how plants accumulate the metal and its subsequent bioaccessibility to humans[3]. By exploring these factors, scientists can develop more targeted and effective remediation strategies. In addition to the biological treatments, the study examined the physiological changes in oat plants exposed to Sb. High levels of heavy metals can disrupt plant growth and photosynthesis, leading to reduced crop yields and quality[5]. The incorporation of AMF and OMW into the soil helped to alleviate some of these negative effects, allowing the oats to maintain better growth and health despite the presence of Sb. The research from Jouf University not only contributes to our understanding of Sb contamination and its impact on plant life but also offers practical solutions for farmers and land managers dealing with contaminated soils. By harnessing the power of natural soil amendments and beneficial fungi, we can improve the health of crops and reduce the risks associated with heavy metal accumulation in the food chain, ultimately protecting both ecosystem and human health.

AgricultureSustainabilityPlant Science


Main Study

1) Improving plant adaptation to soil antimony contamination: the synergistic contribution of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungus and olive mill waste

Published 4th May, 2024


Related Studies

2) Effects of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi on frond antimony enrichment, morphology, and proteomics in Pteris cretica var. nervosa during antimony phytoremediation.


3) Influence of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi on antimony phyto-uptake and compartmentation in vegetables cultivated in urban gardens.


4) Antimony contamination and its risk management in complex environmental settings: A review.


5) Elevated CO2 reduced antimony toxicity in wheat plants by improving photosynthesis, soil microbial content, minerals, and redox status.


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