The effects of multiple metal contamination on ectomycorrhizal Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) seedlings

J Hartley, J W G Cairney, P Freestone, C Woods, A A Meharg* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


Experiments were conducted to investigate the effects of single and multiple metal contamination (Cd, Pb, Zn, Sb, Cu) on Scots pine seedlings colonised by ectomycorrhizal (ECM) fungi from natural soil inoculum. Seedlings were grown in either contaminated field soil from the site of a chemical accident, soils amended with five metals contaminating the site, or in soil from an uncontaminated control site. Although contaminated and metal-amended soil significantly inhibited root and shoot growth of the Scots pine seedlings, total root tip density was not affected. Of the five metals tested in amended soils, Cd was the most toxic to ECM Scots pine. Field-contaminated soil had a toxic effect on ECM fungi associated with Scots pine seedlings and caused shifts in ECM species composition on ECM seedlings. When compared to soils amended with only one metal, soils amended with a combination of all five metals tested had lower relative toxicity and less accumulation of Pb, Zn and Sb into seedlings. This would indicate that the toxicity of multiple metal contamination cannot be predicted from the individual toxicity of the metals investigated. (C) 1999 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)413-424
Number of pages12
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
Issue number3
Early online date12 Jul 1999
Publication statusPublished - Sept 1999

Bibliographical note

The authors wish to thank the Natural Environment Research Council and Institute of Terrestrial Ecology for financial support for J. Hartley.


  • ectomycorrhizal
  • Pinus sylvestris L.
  • interactions
  • Cd
  • Cu
  • Pb
  • Sb
  • Zn
  • heavy-metals
  • growth
  • tolerance
  • pollution
  • cadmium
  • copper
  • fungi
  • soil
  • lead
  • zinc


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