Transfer of rare earth elements (REE) from natural soil to plant systems: implications for the environmental availability of anthropogenic REE
Previous studies have revealed the fractionation processes of rare earth elements (REEs) in hydroponic plants, with a heavy REE (HREE, the elements from Gd to Lu) enrichment in leaves. In this study, effects on the HREE enrichment in soybean leaves with additions of carboxylic acids (acetate, malate, citrate, NTA, EDTA and DTPA) and two soil humic acids (HAs) were investigated. REE speciation in carboxylic acid and HA solutions was simulated using Visual MINTEQ and Model V, respectively. The results showed that the effects caused by carboxylic acids were strongly dependent on the differences between their binding strengths for light REEs (LREEs, the elements from La to Eu) and those for HREEs. A good correlation existed between these effects and the changes of free REE ions in solutions. This relationship was also observed for the HA treatments, provided that the intrinsic equilibrium constants of REEs for cation-proton exchange with HA (i.e., pK(MHA)) in Model V were estimated using a free-energy relationship with the stability constants for REE complexation with lactic acid. It is suggested that this set of pK(MHA) values is more suitable for use in Model V for the simulation of REE complexation with HA.