A hyperaccumulating ecotype (HE) and a non-hyperaccumulating ecotype (NHE) of Sedum alfredii were grown in a pot experiment to investigate the chemical characteristics of the rhizosphere. The results indicated that HE accumulated more Zn in the shoot than NHE after growing in both heavily and slightly polluted soil. The water soluble Zn and mobile Zn (extractable with 1M NH(4)NO(3)) fraction in both rhizosphere and bulk soils decreased considerably after growth of HE compared to NHE. However, the decreases in mobile fraction accounted for less than 8.5% of the total Zn uptake by HE indicating that HE was effective in mobilizing Zn from the non-mobile fractions. Zinc-induced root exudates reduced the soil pH (by 0.6-0.8 units) and increased dissolved organic carbon concentrations in the rhizosphere of HE compared to the bulk soil. The dissolved organic matter (DOM) from the rhizosphere of HE showed greater (1.7-2.5 times) extracting ability of Zn from various Zn minerals than those of NHE-DOM (P<0.05). Results from this study suggests that rhizosphere acidification and the exudation of high amounts of DOM with great metal extracting ability might be two important mechanisms by which HE S. alfredii is involved in activating metal in the rhizosphere.
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