Effect of the natural establishment of two plant species on microbial activity, on the composition of the fungal community, and on the mitigation of potentially toxic elements in an abandoned mine tailing

Anaid Penelope Solis-Hernández, Bruno M. Chávez-Vergara, Aída V. Rodríguez-Tovar, Ofelia I. Beltrán-Paz, Jazmín Santillán, Facundo Rivera-Becerril

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2 Scopus citations

Abstract

In Mexico, millions of tons of mining wastes are deposited in the open pit. Their content in potentially toxic elements (PTE) represents an environmental risk. In the tailings, pioneer plant communities are established, associated with a determined diversity of fungi; plants, and fungi are fundamental in the natural rehabilitation of mining wastes. The objective was to evaluate the impact of the natural establishment of two plant species on the microbial activity, on the composition of the fungal community, and on the mitigation of the effect of PTE in a contaminated mine tailing. In a tailing, we selected three sites: one non-vegetated; one vegetated by Reseda luteola, and one vegetated by Asphodelus fistulosus. In the substrates, we conducted a physical and chemical characterization; we evaluated the enzymatic activity, the mineralization of the carbon, and the concentration of PTE. We also determined the fungal diversity in the substrates and in the interior of the roots, and estimated the accumulation of carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus and PTE in plant tissues. The tailings had a high percentage of sand; the non-vegetated site presented the highest electric conductivity, and the plant cover reduced the concentration of PTE in the substrates. Plants increased the carbon content in tailings. The enzymatic activities of β-glucosidase and dehydrogenase, and the mineralization of carbon were highest at the site vegetated with A. fistulosus. Both plant species accumulated PTE in their tissues and exhibited potential in the phytoremediation of lead (Pb), cadmium (Cd), and copper (Cu). Fungal diversity was more elevated at the vegetated sites than in the bare substrate. Ascomycota prevailed in the substrates; the substrates and the plants shared some fungal taxa, but other taxa were specific. The plant coverage and the rhizosphere promoted the natural attenuation and a rehabilitation of the extreme conditions of the mining wastes, modulated by the plant species.

Original languageEnglish
Article number149788
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Volume802
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2022

Keywords

  • Asphodelus fistulosus
  • Dehydrogenase activity
  • Ecological indicators
  • Mine wastes
  • Natural attenuation
  • Reseda luteola

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