Do high-nickel leaves shed by the nickel hyperaccumulator Alyssum murale inhibit seed germination of competing plants?
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- • Elemental allelopathy suggests that nickel (Ni)-rich leaves shed by hyperaccumulators inhibit the germination and growth of nearby plant species.
- • Here, the germination of eight herbaceous species following addition of Alyssum murale biomass or Ni(NO3)2, with the same Ni level added to soil, was assessed. The distribution of Ni in soil was tested by determining Ni phytoavailability and speciation over time.
- • Phytoavailable Ni in soil amended with biomass declined rapidly over time due to Ni binding to iron (Fe)/manganese (Mn) oxides in the soil. No significant effects on seed germination were observed. Unlike the Ni complex in Alyssum biomass, more Ni remained soluble and phytoavailable in soil amended with Ni(NO3)2, thus significantly inhibiting seed germination.
- • High-Ni leaves shed by hyperaccumulators did not appear to create a ‘toxic zone’ around the plants and inhibit germination or growth of competing plants. The lack of an allelopathic effect was probably related to low Ni availability.