Optimizing phytoremediation of heavy metal-contaminated soil by exploiting plants' stress adaptation

Attila Barocsi, Zsolt Csintalan, Laszlo Kocsanyi, Slavik Dushenkov, J. Michael Kuperberg, Rafal Kucharski, Peter I. Richter

Research output: Article

34 Citations (Scopus)


Soil phytoextraction is based on the ability of plants to extract contaminants from the soil. For less bioavailable metals, such as Pb, a chelator is added to the soil to mobilize the metal. The effect can be significant and in certain species, heavy metal accumulation can rapidly increase 10-fold. Accumulation of high levels of toxic metals may result in irreversible damage to the plant. Monitoring and controlling the phytotoxicity caused by EDTA-induced metal accumulation is crucial to optimize the remedial process, i.e. to achieve maximum uptake. We describe an EDTA-application procedure that minimizes phytotoxicity by increasing plant tolerance and allows phytoextraction of elevated levels of Pb and Cd. Brassica juncea is tested in soil with typical Pb and Cd concentrations of 500 mg kg-1 and 15 mg kg-1, respectively. Instead of a single dose treatment, the chelator is applied in multiple doses, that is, in several small increments, thus providing time for plants to initiate their adaptation mechanisms and raise their damage threshold. In situ monitoring of plant stress conditions by chlorophyll fluorescence recording allows for the identification of the saturating heavy metal accumulation process and of simultaneous plant deterioration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13-23
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Phytoremediation
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - ápr. 13 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Pollution
  • Plant Science

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