No significant transfer of the rare earth element samarium from spiked soil to alfalfa by Funneliformis mosseae.Mycorrhiza. 2020 Nov; 30(6):761-771.M
Rare earth elements including samarium have been widely used in modern technologies in recent decades. Following over-exploitation and soil contamination, they can accumulate in plants and be toxic at high concentrations. Arbuscular mycorrhizae benefit plants in metal-contaminated soils by improving their survival and growth and alleviating metal toxicity, but little information is available about soil contaminated by rare earth elements. We performed two experiments using samarium to study the role of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi on plant growth and samarium transfer to alfalfa in a samarium-spiked soil. A pot experiment was conducted in a soil spiked with two concentrations of samarium and a non-spiked control, inoculated or not with a metal-tolerant Funneliformis mosseae. A compartmented pot experiment was then performed with a separated compartment containing samarium-spiked sand only accessible by F. mosseae fungal hyphae to further study the transport of samarium from the soil to alfalfa. The biomass of alfalfa grown on samarium-spiked soil was reduced, while it was significantly higher following arbuscular mycorrhiza inoculation in the pot experiment, both in the control and samarium-spiked soil. Although mycorrhizal plants had a higher phosphorus content than non-mycorrhizal ones, there was no significant difference in samarium concentrations between mycorrhizal and non-mycorrhizal plants. The compartment experiment confirmed that there was no significant samarium transfer to the plant by F. mosseae. Other fungi and plants should be tested, and field experiments performed, but our results suggest that arbuscular mycorrhizal plants might be considered in phytorestoration of rare-earth-contaminated soils.