Phosphorus Nutrition of Arsenate-Tolerant and Nontolerant Phenotypes of Velvetgrass

A A Meharg, J Naylor, M R Macnair

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141 Citations (Scopus)


Velvetgrass (Holcus lanatus L.), also known as Yorkshire fog grass, has evolved tolerance to high levels of arsenate, and this adaptation involves reduced accumulation of arsenate through the suppression of the high affinity phosphate-arsenate uptake system. To determine the role of P nutrition in arsenate tolerance, inhibition kinetics of arsenate influx by phosphate were determined. The concentration of inhibitor required to reduce maximum influx (V-max) by 50%, K-1, of phosphate inhibition of arsenate influx was 0.02 mol m(-3) in both tolerant and nontolerant clones. This was compared with the concentration where influx is 50% of maximum, a K-m, for arsenate influx of 0.6 mol m(-3) for tolerants and 0.025 mol m(-3) for nontolerants and, therefore, phosphate was much more effective at inhibiting arsenate influx in tolerant genotypes, The high affinity phosphate uptake system is inducible under low plant phosphate status, this increasing plant phosphate status should increase tolerance by decreasing arsenate influx. Root extension in arsenate solutions of tolerant and nontolerant tillers grown under differing phosphate nutritional regimes showed that indeed, increased plant P status increased the tolerance to arsenate of both tolerant and nontolerant clones. That plant P status increased tolerance again argues that P nutrition has a critical role in arsenate tolerance. To determine if short term flux and solution culture studies were relevant to As and P accumulation in soils, soil and plant material from a range of As contaminated sites were analyzed. As predicted from the short-term competition studies, P was accumulated preferentially to As in arsenate tolerant clones growing on mine spoil soils even when acid attractable arsenate in the soils was much greater than acid attractable phosphate, Though phosphate was much more efficient at competing with arsenate for uptake, plants growing on arsenate contaminated land still accumulated considerable amounts of As. plants from the differing habitats showed large variation in plant phosphate status, pasture plants having much higher P levels than plants growing on the most contaminated mine spoil soils. The selectivity of the phosphate-arsenate uptake system for phosphate compared with arsenate, coupled with the suppression of this uptake system enabled tolerant clones of the grass velvetgrass to grow on soils that were highly contaminated with arsenate and deficient in phosphate.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)234-238
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Environmental Quality
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1994


  • Holcus-Lanatus L
  • phosphate-uptake system
  • agrostis-capillaris L
  • ianatus L
  • accumulation
  • genetics


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