Mechanistic insights into trace metal mobilization at the micro-scale in the rhizosphere of Vallisneria spiralis.
Mobilization of trace metals in the rhizosphere of macrophytes is controlled by root-driven chemical changes, especially the steep gradients of O2 and pH from the rhizosphere to bulk sediments. Here, the O2 and pH dynamics, and the distribution of trace metal, in the rhizosphere of Vallisneria spiralis were obtained using planar optodes and diffusive gradients in thin films, respectively. Radial O2 loss (ROL) and acidification occurred on all visible roots of V. spiralis and exhibited highly spatiotemporal dynamics depending on the root growth and various environmental conditions. Trace metals showed different mobilization mechanisms in the rhizosphere. ROL and produced Fe(III) (oxyhydr)oxides decreased the mobility of Fe, As, Co, V and W in the rhizosphere. However, Mn, Ni and Cu exhibited greater mobility in the rhizosphere than bulk sediments as a result of the oxidation of metal sulfide and proton-induced dissolution of minerals. In particular, Co and Ni presented increased activity at the interface between rhizosphere and bulk sediment, which was attributed to the redox dissolution processes of Fe and Mn as a result of ROL and rhizosphere acidification. These results provide new insights into the roles of macrophyte root-induced O2 and pH changes in controlling trace metal mobility in sediments.