State Key Laboratory of Food Science and Technology, Jiangsu Key Laboratory of Anaerobic Biotechnology, School of Environment and Civil Engineering, Jiangnan University, Wuxi 214122, China; Jiangsu Cooperative Innovation Center of Water Treatment Technology and Materials, Suzhou University of Science and Technology, Suzhou 215009, China. Electronic address: [Email]
The accumulation of rare earth elements (REEs) in the environment has become an environmental safety issue that cannot be ignored. However, previous studies on the environmental risks of REEs have mostly been performed at the individual level. In this work, to explore the effects of REE pollution at the population level, the effects of lanthanum (III) [La(III)] on the aboveground modules of soybean (Glycine max L) populations at different planting densities were investigated by simulating La(III) pollution, and the underlying mechanism was revealed on the physiological and biochemical levels of respiration. The results showed that the addition of 0.4 and 1.2 mM La(III) decreased the aboveground module growth parameters of the soybean populations, and this effect was more evident in the 1.2 mM La(III) treatment. At a certain dose of La(III), the effects of La(III) on the aboveground module growth parameters decreased with increasing plant densities. In addition, the effects of La(III) on the aboveground module growth parameters of soybean plants at different planting densities were related to plant respiration, in particular, to changes in the activities of respiratory key enzymes. The results indicated that the inhibitory effects of La(III) depended on the dose and on the planting density. This finding could provide a novel perspective and a basis for the objective assessment of potential environmental risks of REEs. ONE SENTENCE SUMMARY: La(III) pollution effects on the aboveground modules of soybean populations are related to the changes of the population respiration and the respiratory key enzymes; moreover, these effects are restricted by the population density.