Al–Fe interactions and growth enhancement in Melastoma malabathricum and Miscanthus sinensis dominating acid sulphate soils


T. Watanabe. Fax: +81-11-706-3845; e-mail:


Plants growing in acid sulphate soils are subject to high levels of Al availability, which may have effects on the growth and distribution of these species. Although Fe availability is also high in acid sulphate soils, little is known about the effect of Fe on the growth of native plants in these soils. Two species dominating this soil type in Asia, viz. Melastoma malabathricum and Miscanthus sinensis were grown hydroponically in a nutrient solution with different concentrations of Al and Fe. Melastoma malabathricum is found to be sensitive to Fe (40 and 100 µm). Application of 500 µm Al, however, completely ameliorates Fe toxicity and is associated with a decrease of Fe concentration in shoots and roots. The primary reason for the Al-induced growth enhancement of M. malabathricum is considered to be the Al-induced reduction of toxic Fe accumulation in roots and shoots. Therefore, Al is nearly essential for M. malabathricum when growing in acid sulphate soils. In contrast, application of both Fe and Al does not reduce the growth of M. sinensis, and Al application does not result in lower shoot concentrations of Fe, suggesting that this grass species has developed different mechanisms for adaptation to acid sulphate soils.