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Keywords:

  • Astragalus bisulcatus;
  • hyperaccumulation;
  • plant–plant interactions;
  • selenium (Se);
  • Stanleya pinnata

Summary

  • Few studies have investigated plant–plant interactions involving hyperaccumulator plants. Here, we investigated the effect of selenium (Se) hyperaccumulation on neighboring plants.
  • Soil and litter Se concentrations were determined around the hyperaccumulators Astragalus bisulcatus and Stanleya pinnata and around the nonhyperaccumulators Medicago sativa and Helianthus pumilus. We also compared surrounding vegetative cover, species composition and Se concentration in two plant species (Artemisia ludoviciana and Symphyotrichum ericoides) growing either close to or far from Se hyperaccumulators. Then, Arabidopsis thaliana germination and growth were compared on soils collected next to the hyperaccumulators and the nonhyperaccumulators.
  • Soil collected around hyperaccumulators contained more Se (up to 266 mg Se kg−1) than soil collected around nonhyperaccumulators. Vegetative ground cover was 10% lower around Se hyperaccumulators compared with nonhyperaccumulators. The Se concentration was higher in neighboring species A. ludoviciana and S. ericoides when growing close to, compared with far from, Se hyperaccumulators. A. thaliana showed reduced germination and growth, and higher Se accumulation, when grown on soil collected around Se hyperaccumulators compared with soil collected around nonaccumulators.
  • In conclusion, Se hyperaccumulators may increase the surrounding soil Se concentration (phytoenrichment). The enhanced soil Se contents around hyperaccumulators can impair the growth of Se-sensitive plant species, pointing to a possible role of Se hyperaccumulation in elemental allelopathy.