Germination, physiological and biochemical responses of acacia seedlings (Acacia raddiana and Acacia tortilis) to petroleum contaminated soils

Thanh Hoai Tran, Einav Mayzlish Gati, Amram Eshel, Gidon Winters*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations

Abstract

Along the arid Arava, southern Israel, acacia trees (Acacia raddiana and Acacia tortilis) are considered keystone species. Yet they are threatened by the ongoing aquifer depletion for agriculture, the conversion of natural land to agricultural land, seed infestation by bruchid beetles, and the reduction in precipitation level in the region. In the acacia dominated Evrona reserve (southern Arava), adding to these threats are recurrent oil spills from an underground pipeline. We report here a study of the effects of contaminated soils, from a recent (December 2014) and a much older (1975) oil spills. The effects of local petroleum oil-contaminated soils on germination and early growing stages of the two acacia species were studied by comparisons with uncontaminated (control) soils from the same sites. For both acacia species, germination was significantly reduced in the 2014 oil-contaminated soils, whereas delayed in the 1975 oil-contaminated soil. There was no significant effect of oil volatile compounds on seed germination. At 105 days post transplanting (DPT), height, leaf number, stem diameter, and root growth were significantly smaller in the oil-contaminated soils. While photosynthetic performance (quantum yield of photosystem II) did not differ considerably between treatments, reductions of chlorophylls content and protein content were found in seedlings growing in the contaminated soils. Significant increases in superoxide dismutase (SOD) and ascorbate peroxidase (APX) activities were found in roots of seedlings growing in oil-contaminated soils. These results demonstrate that seed germination and seedling growth of both acacia species were strongly restricted by oil contamination in soils, from both recent (2014) and a 40-year old (1975) oil spills. Such long-term effects of oil spills on local acacia seedlings could shift the structure of local acacia communities. These results should be taken into account by local authorities aiming to clean up and restore such polluted areas. Long term effects of oil contaminated soils could shift the structure of local acacia communities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)642-655
Number of pages14
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
Volume234
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2018

Funding

FundersFunder number
Arava Dead Sea Science Center
Tel Aviv University's
Ministry of Science and Technology, Israel

    Keywords

    • Acacia
    • Antioxidant activity
    • Evrona reserve
    • Oil spill
    • Root development

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