Comparison of soil solution speciation and diffusive gradients in thin-films measurement as an indicator of copper bioavailability to plants


  • Presented at the Symposium on Risk Assessment of Metals in Soils, 14th Annual Meeting, SETAC Europe Meeting, Prague, Czech Republic, April 18–22, 2004.


The toxicity effect concentrations (10% effective concentration [EC10] and 50% effective concentration [EC50]) of total added Cu derived from barley root elongation and tomato growth assays varied widely among 18 European soils. We investigated whether this variation could be explained by the solubility or speciation of Cu in soil solutions or the diffusive gradients in thin-films (DGT) measurement. Solubility and Cu speciation varied greatly among the soils tested. However, the EC10 and EC50 of soil solution Cu or free Cu2+ activity varied even more widely than those based on the total added Cu, indicating that solubility or soil solution speciation alone could not explain intersoil variation in Cu toxicity. Estimated EC10 and EC50 of free Cu2+ activity correlated closely and negatively with soil pH, indicating a protective effect of H+, which is consistent with the biotic ligand model concept. The DGT measurement was found to narrow the intersoil variation in EC50 considerably and to be a better predictor of plant Cu concentrations than either soil solution Cu or free Cu2+ activity. We conclude that plant bioavailability of Cu in soil depends on Cu speciation, interactions with protective ions (particularly H+), and the resupply from the solid phase, and we conclude that the DGT measurement provides a useful indicator of Cu bioavailability in soil.