Differences in phosphorus translocation contributes to differential arsenic tolerance between plants of Borreria verticillata (Rubiaceae) from mine and non-mine sites.
We have identified new arsenic-tolerant plant species Borreria verticillata (Rubiaceae) that has mine and non-mine populations at a highly contaminated site (CS) and an uncontaminated site (UCS), respectively, in Brazil. Plants of B. verticillata from both sites were cultivated at different As and P concentrations. At low P concentration, CS plants showed reduced As uptake, higher P translocation to shoots, higher constitutive levels of phenolic compounds in roots, and higher tolerance to this metalloid. At the lowest P and highest As concentration, CS plants showed higher biomass. In addition, CS plants showed higher P uptake in the absence of As, suggesting that more efficient P translocation could contribute more to tolerance than decreased As uptake. In contrast, at low P concentration, UCS plants showed higher As content in shoot and root, increase in phenol levels in roots, reduction in dry biomass, and decrease of the effective efficiency of photochemical reactions and the electron transport rate. Under higher P concentrations, the decrease in As uptake was similar in both populations. The differences between the two populations with respect to As and P uptake suggest that altered kinetic properties or expression of P transporters contribute to higher As tolerance in B. verticillata from CS. As a ruderal and As-tolerant plant, B. verticillata could be successfully used for the revegetation of contaminated soils.