Effects of Rhizophagus clarus and biochar on growth, photosynthesis, nutrients, and cadmium (Cd) concentration of maize (Zea mays) grown in Cd-spiked soil.Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 2019 Jul; 26(20):20689-20700.ES
Cadmium (Cd) toxicity in agricultural crops is a widespread problem. Little is known about biochar and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) effect on Cd concentration in maize plant either applied separately or in combination. Current study was performed to demonstrate effects of biochar and Rhizophagus clarus on plant growth, photosynthesis activity, nutrients (P, Ca, Mg, Fe, Cu, and Mn), and Cd concentration in maize grown in Cd-spiked soil. The alkaline soil was spiked by Cd factor at three levels: 0 (Cd 0), 5 (Cd 5), and 10 (Cd 10) mg/kg; biochar factor at two levels: 0 and 1%; and mycorrhizal inoculum factor at two levels: MF0 and MF1 (R. clraus). Plants were harvested after 70 days of seed germination, and various morphological and physiological parameters, as well as elemental concentration and root colonization, were recorded. Addition of biochar increased plant biomass by 21% (Cd 5) and 93% (Cd 10), MF1 enhanced by 53% (Cd 0) and 69% (Cd 10), while biochar + MF1 enhanced dry plant biomass by 70% (Cd 0) and 94% (Cd 10). Results showed maximum increase of 94% (Cd 10) in plant biomass was observed in Cd-spiked soil. Root colonization decreased proportionally by increasing Cd concentration and at Cd 10, colonization was 36.7% and 31.7% for MF1 and biochar + MF1 treatments, respectively. Besides that, addition of biochar enhanced root attributes (root length, volume, and surface area) by 34-58% compared to control in Cd 10. The MF1 increased these attributes by 11-78% while biochar + MF1 enhanced by 32-61% in Cd-spiked soil. However, biochar + MF1 neutralized Cd stress in maize plant for gaseous attributes (assimilation rate, transpiration rate, intercellular CO2, and stomatal conductance). The MF1 enhanced Cd concentration in plant as it was 3.32 mg/kg in Cd 5 and 6.73 mg/kg in Cd 10 treatments while addition of biochar phytostabilized Cd and reduced its concentration in plants by 2.0 mg/kg in Cd 5 and 4.27 mg/kg in Cd 10. The biochar + MF1 had 2.9 mg/kg and 4.8 mg/kg Cd concentration in Cd 5 and Cd 10 plants, respectively. Phosphorus concentration was augmented in shoots (up to 26%) and roots (up to 20%) of maize plant in biochar-amended soil than control plants. In biochar + MF1, concentration of P was 1.01% and 0.73% in Cd 5 and Cd 10, respectively. It is concluded that biochar + MF1 treatment enhances plant biomass while addition of sole biochar reduced Cd uptake, slightly indifferent to earlier treatment.