Aluminum (Al)-humus complexes are abundant in the A horizons of non-allophanic Andosols and contribute to the unique properties of volcanic ash soils, such as high reactivity with phosphate ions and a low bulk density. Natural non-allophanic Andosols commonly show Al toxicity to plant roots. There have been very few studies examining the contribution of Al-humus complexes to the Al toxicity of plant roots, although the complexes are the probable source of the toxic Al. We extracted humic substances from the A horizon of a non-allophanic Andosol using NaOH solution and reacted the humic substances and partially neutralized the AlCl3 solution at three pH conditions (pH 4.0, 4.5 and 5.5) to prepare pure Al-humic substance complexes. The Al solubility study (equilibrium study in 10-2 mol L-1 CaCl2) and the Al release study (a stirred-flow method using 10 -3 mol L-1 acetate buffer solution adjusted to pH 3.5) indicated that all the synthetic complexes easily and rapidly release monomeric Al into the liquid phase with slight changes in pH and ion strength, although the Al contents and their extent of polymerization are considerably different among the complexes. A plant growth test was conducted using a medium containing the Al-humic substance complexes and perlite mixture. Root growth in burdock (Arctium lappa) and barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) was reduced equally by all three complex media, and the roots showed the typical injury symptoms of Al toxicity. These results indicate that in soils dominated by Al-humus complexes the Al released from the Al-humus complexes, as well as the exchangeable Al adsorbed by soil minerals, is definitely toxic to plant roots.
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