Accumulation of rare earth elements (REE) in the soil may be due to the use of REE enriched fertilizers and to contamination by REE containing wastes. Although widely used in China for soil and foliar dressing of crops, little is known about the effect of REE applications on the soil microbial community. The effect of REE on the growth of biological control strains of Trichoderma atroviride and Trichoderma harzianum was investigated in vitro using either a mix of different REE containing different amounts of lanthanum, cerium, praseodymium, neodymium, gadolinium nitrate and lanthanum nitrate alone in comparison to treatments with potassium nitrate and water. In plate tests applied concentrations ranged from 0.1 mM to 300 mM for lanthanum and REE mix and from 0.1 mM to 900 mM for the potassium solution. In liquid culture tests applied concentrations ranged from 0.001 mM to 100 mM for lanthanum and REE mix and from 0.003 mM to 900 mM for the potassium solution. ICP-MS, TEM and TEM X-ray microanalysis were used to study the accumulation of REE in fungal biomass. All the Trichoderma strains showed a good tolerance to the presence of REE in the culture media. Some growth enhancing effects were observed in liquid cultures of T. harzianum strains but not in T. atroviride. Accumulation of REE in fungal biomass, both at intracellular level and in the extracellular matrix, was observed. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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