Plant productivity, ectomycorrhizae, and metal contamination in urban brownfield soils

Jessica M. Evans, Adam Parker, Frank Gallagher, Jennifer Adams Krumins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


The soil contamination legacy of postindustrial sites has become an issue of increasing ecological and public health concern. This study examines the ectomycorrhizal and above-ground plant relationships in the metaliferous soil of an urban brownfield. Ectomycorrhizal fungi (EMF) were microscopically identified by physical morphotyping followed by sequencing of ribosomal DNA. Plant productivity was assessed through Leaf Area Index (LAI) measurements taken fromMay through July 2012 and 2013. Results indicate that therewere significant changes in EMF community composition and plant productivity based on their position along a total soil metal load gradient. Cenococcum geophilum was the dominant species in the soilswhere total soilmetal load was belowpreviously established threshold values, and Russula species were the dominant genera in soilswhere the total soil metal load was above the threshold value. Higher LAI values are seen in environments with higher soil metal levels. However, higher LAI could be due to multiple factors such as increased moisture and the dominance of metal-tolerant tree species. This study suggests that soil metal contamination affects plant productivity and EMFcommunity composition and supports the idea that EMF species have varying levels of tolerance for metals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)198-206
Number of pages9
JournalSoil Science
Issue number4-5
StatePublished - 2015


  • Heavy metals
  • Mycorrhizae
  • Plant productivity
  • Restoration


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