Enhancing native plant establishment in mine tailings under drought stress conditions through the application of organo-mineral amendments and microbial inoculants

Madline Atika*, Benidire Leila, Sofia I. A. Pereira, Paula M. L. Castro, Boularbah Ali

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

The implementation of phytoremediation strategies under arid and semiarid climates requires the use of appropriate plant species capable of withstanding multiple abiotic stresses. In this study, we assessed the combined effects of organo-mineral amendments and microbial inoculants on the chemical and biological properties of mine tailings, as well as on the growth of native plant species under drought stress conditions. Plants were cultivated in pots containing 1 kg of a mixture of mine tailings and topsoil (i.e., pre-mined superficial soil) in a 60:40 ratio, 6% marble sludge, and 10% sheep manure. Moreover, a consortium of four drought-resistant plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria (PGPR) was inoculated. Three irrigation levels were applied: well-watered, moderate water deficit, and severe water deficit, corresponding to 80%, 45%, and 30% of field capacity, respectively. The addition of topsoil and organo-mineral amendments to mine tailings significantly improved their chemical and biological properties, which were further enhanced by bacterial inoculation and plants’ establishment. Water stress negatively impacted enzymatic activities in amended tailings, resulting in a significant decrease in acid and alkaline phosphatases, urease, and dehydrogenase activities. Similar results were obtained for bacteria, fungi, and actinomycete abundance. PGPR inoculation positively influenced the availability of phosphorus, total nitrogen, and organic carbon, while it increased alkaline phosphatase, urease (by about 10%), and dehydrogenase activity (by 50%). The rhizosphere of Peganum harmala showed the highest enzymatic activity and number of culturable microorganisms, especially in inoculated treatments. Severe water deficit negatively affected plant growth, leading to a 40% reduction in the shoot biomass of both Atriplex halimus and Pennisetum setaceum compared to well-watered plants. P. harmala showed greater tolerance to water stress, evidenced by lower decreases observed in root and shoot length and dry weight compared to well-watered plants. The use of bioinoculants mitigated the negative effects of drought on P. harmala shoot biomass, resulting in an increase of up to 75% in the aerial biomass in plants exposed to severe water deficit. In conclusion, the results suggest that the combination of organo-mineral amendments, PGPR inoculation, and P. harmala represents a promising approach to enhance the phytoremediation of metal-polluted soils under semiarid conditions.
Original languageEnglish
Article number863
Number of pages21
JournalPlants
Volume13
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2024

Keywords

  • Contaminated areas
  • Metals
  • Phytoremediation
  • Plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria
  • Metallophytes

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