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Phytoremediation is an approach designed to extract excessive heavy metals from contaminated soils through plant uptake. Cadmium (Cd) is among the elements most toxic to living organisms. Health hazards associated with the lethal intake of Cd include renal (kidney) damage, anaemia, hypertension and liver damage. A greenhouse experiment was carried out with Indian mustard (Brassica juncea) grown on artificially spiked soil (100 μg Cd g−1) with EDTA (2 mmol kg−1 in 5 split doses), FYM, vermicompost (VC) and microbial inoculants (MI) such as Azotobacter sp. and Pseudomonas sp. The growth of Brassica juncea L. was better in soil amended with FYM or VC as compared to unamended Cd-polluted soil. Growth was slightly suppressed in EDTA-treated soil, whereas it was better after treatment with MI. The application of FYM and VC increased the dry matter yield of Indian mustard either alone or in combination with microbial inoculants, while that of EDTA caused a significant decrease in the biomass of Indian mustard. The application of microbial inoculants increased the dry matter yield of both the roots and shoots, but not significantly, because MI shows greater sensitivity towards cadmium. The maximum cadmium concentration was observed in the EDTA +MI treatment, but Cd uptake was maximum in the VC + MI treatment. The Cd concentration in the shoots increased by 120% in CdEDTA over the Cd100 treatment, followed by CdVC (65%) and CdFYM (42%) in the absence of microbial inoculants. The corresponding values in the presence of MI were 107, 51 and 37%, respectively. A similar trend was also observed in the roots in the order CdEDTA+M > CdVC+M > CdFYM+M>Cd100+M.MI caused an increase in Cd content of 5.5% in the roots and 4.1% in the shoots in the CdEDTA+M treatment compared with the CdEDTA treatment. FYM, VC and EDTA also increased Cd uptake significantly both in the shoots and roots with and without microbial inoculants.The results indicated that Vermicompost in combination with microbial inoculants is the best treatment for the phytoremediation of Cd-contaminated soil by Indian mustard, as revealed by the Cd uptake values in the shoots: CdVC+M (2265.7 μg/pot) followed by CdEDTA+M (2251.2 μg/pot), CdFYM+M (1485.7 μg/pot) and Cd100+M (993.1 μg/pot).

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Community Ecology
Authors:
F. Samu
,
F. Kádár
,
G. Ónodi
,
M. Kertész
,
A. Szirányi
,
É. Szita
,
K. Fetykó
,
D. Neidert
,
E. Botos
, and
V. Altbäcker

Recent environmental and land use changes have made wildfires more frequent in natural habitats of the Kiskunság Sand Ridge on the Hungarian Plain. In a study initiated 2.5 years after an extensive fire that destroyed half of the area of a sand grassland — juniper, poplar forest steppe habitat, we assessed the effects of fire on two generalist arthropod groups: spiders and carabid beetles, as well as on the vegetation. Utilizing the natural experiment situation, samples were taken by pitfalls and suction sampling during a 1.5 years period in four 1 ha blocks, two of which were on the burnt part of the habitat, and two in the unburnt control. At the time of the investigation, in the burnt area the vegetation in the grass layer showed a quick but not complete recovery, while the canopy layer of the juniper bushes burnt down with no sign of regeneration. Carabid beetles and spiders showed differences in recovery after fire. In the carabid assemblages of the burnt parts — compared to the unburnt control — there were over three times more beetles, out of which significantly more represented the macropterous life form and granivorous feeding strategy. There was a higher ratio of pioneer species and a simplified assemblage structure in the burnt area, which meant that the conservation value of the carabid assemblage became lower there. In contrast, for the spider assemblage quantitative changes in abundance and species numbers were not significant, and the differences in species composition did not lead to a decrease in conservation value. Spider species in the burnt plots could not be described as pioneer species, rather they had ecological characteristics that suited the changed vegetation structure. Comparing the two groups, to repopulate the burnt areas, dispersal abilities proved to be more limiting for carabids. However, in both groups a strong assemblage level adaptation could be observed to the postfire conditions. In spiders, species with a stratum preference for the grass layer prevailed, while in carabids individuals with granivore strategy gained dominance. Thus, despite the differences in their speed, basically both assemblages tracked vegetation changes. The effect of future fires will depend on their scale, as well as land-use practices, such as grazing, that interact with fire frequency and recovery. If extensive fires in the future permanently change the vegetation, then it would also lead to a fundamental change in the arthropod fauna.

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