Phytostabilization is a cost-effective long-term bioremediation technique for the immobilization of metalliferous mine tailings. However, the biogeochemical processes affecting metal(loid) molecular stabilization and mobility in the root zone remain poorly resolved. The roots of Prosopis juliflora grown for up to 36 months in compost-amended pyritic mine tailings from a federal Superfund site were investigated by microscale and bulk synchrotron X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS) and multiple energy micro-X-ray fluorescence imaging to determine iron, arsenic, and sulfur speciation, abundance, and spatial distribution. Whereas ferrihydrite-bound As(V) species predominated in the initial bulk mine tailings, the rhizosphere speciation of arsenic was distinctly different. Root-associated As(V) was immobilized on the root epidermis bound to ferric sulfate precipitates and within root vacuoles as trivalent As(III)-(SR)3 tris-thiolate complexes. Molar Fe-to-As ratios of root epidermis tissue were two times higher than the 15% compost-amended bulk tailings growth medium. Rhizoplane-associated ferric sulfate phases that showed a high capacity to scavenge As(V) were dissimilar from the bulk-tailings mineralogy as shown by XAS and X-ray diffraction, indicating a root-surface mechanism for their formation or accumulation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Environmental Chemistry