Postprint version. Published in Ecological Research, Volume 33, Issue 3, May 1, 2018, pages 651-658.
The definitive version is available at https://doi.org/10.1007/s11284-017-1541-5.
Five nickel hyperaccumulators belonging to the Asteraceae are known from ultramafic outcrops in South Africa. Phytoremediation applications of the known hyperaccumulators in the Asteraceae, such as the indigenous Berkheya coddii Roessler, are well reported and necessitate further exploration to find additional species with such traits. This study targeted the most frequently occurring species of the Asteraceae on eight randomly selected serpentinite outcrops of the Barberton Greenstone Belt. Twenty species were sampled, including 12 that were tested for nickel accumulation for the first time. Although the majority of the species were excluders, the known hyperaccumulators Berkheya nivea N.E.Br. and B. zeyheri (Sond. & Harv.) Oliv. & Hiern subsp. rehmannii (Thell.) Roessler var. rogersiana (Thell.) Roessler hyperaccumulated nickel in the leaves at expected levels. A new hyperaccumulator of nickel was discovered, Senecio conrathii N.E.Br., which accumulated the element in its leaves at 1695 ± 637 µg g−1 on soil with a total and exchangeable nickel content of 503 mg kg−1 and 0.095 µg g−1, respectively. This makes it the third known species in the Senecioneae of South Africa to hyperaccumulate nickel after Senecio anomalochrous Hilliard and Senecio coronatus (Thunb.) Harv., albeit it being a weak accumulator compared with the latter. Seven tribes in the Asteraceae have now been screened for hyperaccumulation in South Africa, with hyperaccumulators only recorded for the Arctoteae and Senecioneae. This suggests that further exploration for hyperaccumulators should focus on these tribes as they comprise all six species (of 68 Asteraceae taxa screened thus far) to hyperaccumulate nickel.
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