In soil ecotoxicological studies, a toxic metal is usually added in the form of either an inorganic or organic salt with relatively high solubility. Nitrate, chloride, acetate, or sulfate are commonly considered as valid options for that aim. However, recent studies have shown that different salts of the same metal at the same cationic concentration may exhibit different toxicities to plants and soil organisms. This information should be considered when selecting data to use for developing toxicological criteria for soil environment. A comparative study was carried out to evaluate the toxicity of five nickel (Ni) salts: NiCl2, NiSO4, Ni(II)-citrate, Ni(CH3COO)2, and Ni(II)-EDTA (ethylenediaminetetraacetate), on maize seedlings. The plant metrics used were plant height, shoot and root biomass, leaf soluble sugars and starch, and the Ni contents of the shoots and roots. The results indicated that when Ni was added to the soil, toxicity varied with the selected anionic partner with the following toxicity ranking NiSO4 < Ni(CH3COO)2 < Ni(II)-citrate < NiCl2 < Ni(II)-EDTA. Taking the plant-height metric as an example, the effective concentrations for 50% inhibition (EC50) were 3148 mg kg-1 for NiSO4, 1315 mg kg-1 for NiCl2, and 89 mg kg-1 for Ni(II)-EDTA. Compared with the Ni in the other salts, that in Ni(II)-EDTA was taken up the most efficiently by the maize roots and, thus, resulted in the greatest toxic effects on the plants. Nickel generally reduced leaf soluble sugars, which indicated an effect on plant carbohydrate metabolism. The outcome of the study demonstrates that different salts of the same metal have quite different ecotoxicities. Therefore, the anionic counterpart of a potentially toxic metal cation must be taken into account in the development of ecotoxicological criteria for evaluating the soil environment, and a preferred approach of leaching soil to reduce the anionic partner should also be considered.
Nie, J., Pan, Y., Shi, J., Guo, Y., Yan, Z., Duan, X., & Xu, M. (2015). A comparative study on the uptake and toxicity of nickel added in the form of different salts to maize seedlings. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 12(12), 15075–15087. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph121214972