Interactions and Toxicity of Cu-Zn mixtures to Hordeum vulgare in Different Soils Can Be Rationalized with Bioavailability-Based Prediction Models.Environ Sci Technol. 2016 Jan 19; 50(2):1014-22.ES
Soil contamination with copper (Cu) is often associated with zinc (Zn), and the biological response to such mixed contamination is complex. Here, we investigated Cu and Zn mixture toxicity to Hordeum vulgare in three different soils, the premise being that the observed interactions are mainly due to effects on bioavailability. The toxic effect of Cu and Zn mixtures on seedling root elongation was more than additive (i.e., synergism) in soils with high and medium cation-exchange capacity (CEC) but less than additive (antagonism) in a low-CEC soil. This was found when we expressed the dose as the conventional total soil concentration. In contrast, antagonism was found in all soils when we expressed the dose as free-ion activities in soil solution, indicating that there is metal-ion competition for binding to the plant roots. Neither a concentration addition nor an independent action model explained mixture effects, irrespective of the dose expressions. In contrast, a multimetal BLM model and a WHAM-Ftox model successfully explained the mixture effects across all soils and showed that bioavailability factors mainly explain the interactions in soils. The WHAM-Ftox model is a promising tool for the risk assessment of mixed-metal contamination in soils.