Claudio Bini, Laura Maleci


Serpentine soils have relatively high concentrations of PTEs (Co, Cr, Cu, Fe, Ni) but generally low amounts of major nutrients. They often bear a distinctive vegetation, and a frequently-used approach to understanding serpentine ecology and related environmental hazard has been the chemical analysis of soils and plants. In this paper we report past and current studies on serpentine soils and serpentinophytes. The serpentine vegetation differs from the conterminous non-serpentine areas, being often endemic, and showing macroscopic physionomical characters. Similarly, at microscopic level cytomorphological characteristics of the roots and variations in biochemical parameters were recorded in serpentinophytes. Light microscopy observations showed depressed mitotic activity in the meristematic zone, and consequent reduced root growth. The different tolerance mechanisms responsible for plant adaption to high concentrations of PTEs in serpentine soils can be related to the capacity of plants to limit metal uptake and translocation. The majority of serpentinophytes tend to limit metal absorption to roots: the cell wall constitutes a barrier against metal penetration inside plant tissues. Only a few species are able to accumulate metals in their aerial parts, acting a tolerance mechanism to very high metal concentrations. Serpentinophytes, therefore, could represent proxies for plants  used in remediation of metal-contaminated soils and in phytomining as well.


serpentine soils; serpentinophytes; metal uptake; phytoremediation

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DOI: 10.6092/issn.2281-4485/4547


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