Effect of Polluted Soil and Fertilisation on Growth and Physiology of Silver Birch (Betula pendula Roth.) Seedlings

K. Bojarczuk, P. Karolewski, J. Oleksyn, B. Kieliszewska-Rokicka, R. Zytkowiak, M. G. Tjoelker

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One-year-old seedlings of silver birch (Betula pendula Roth.) were grown in pots filled with a soil substrate that originated from an area polluted by a phosphate fertiliser factory and characterised by a high soil Al level and low Ca/Al ratio or with a substrate from an area regarded as free from toxic pollution. In addition the effect of fertilisation with a mixture of nutrients was evaluated. Birch seedlings grew slowest in the unfertilised polluted substrate. In the unfertilised polluted substrate seedlings were characterised by high biomass allocation to roots (60% vs. 30 to 40% in control or fertilised substrate), lower diversity of ectomycorrhizae and the lowest rate of root and substrate microbial respiration. Roots of seedlings grown in the polluted soil were characterised by a significantly higher level of phenolic compounds. Fertilisation of plants grown in the polluted soil accelerated their growth, and lowered RWR (g root g-1 plant) and increased biomass allocated to foliage. Our results indicate that elimination of air pollution does not decrease the toxic effect of a polluted soil. Fertilisation may improve the condition of seedlings growing in polluted soil, however it was not able to eliminate entirely the adverse effect of soil pollution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)483-492
Number of pages10
JournalPolish Journal of Environmental Studies
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2002


  • Ca/Al ratio
  • Microbial respiration
  • Mycorrhizae
  • Phenolic compounds, photosynthesis
  • Plant development
  • Root respiration
  • Soil pollution


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