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Toxicity, Accumulation, and Removal of Heavy Metals by Three Aquatic Macrophytes

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A comprehensive understanding of the uptake, tolerance, and transport of heavy metals by plants will be essential for the development of phytoremediation technologies. In the present paper, we investigated accumulation, tissue and intracellular localization, and toxic effects of cadmium (Cd), lead (Pb), zinc (Zn), and copper (Cu) in three aquatic macrophytes (the angiosperms Lemna minor and Elodea canadensis, and the moss Leptodictyum riparium). We also tested and compared their capacity to absorb heavy metal from water under laboratory conditions. Our data showed that all the three species examined could be considered good bioaccumulators for the heavy metals tested. L. riparium was the most resistant species and the most effective in accumulating Cu, Zn, and Pb, whereas L. minor was the most effective in accumulating Cd. Cd was the most toxic metal, followed by Pb, Cu, and Zn. At the ultrastructural level, sublethal concentrations of the heavy metals tested caused induced cell plasmolysis and alterations of the chloroplast arrangement. Heavy metal removal experiments revealed that the three macrophytes showed excellent performance in removing the selected metals from the solutions in which they are maintained, thus suggesting that they could be considered good candidates for wastewaters remediation purpose.
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Keywords: X-ray ESEM microanalysis; aquatic plants; atomic absorption spectrometry; phytoremediation; plant-metal interactions

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Biological Sciences, Section of Plant Biology,University Federico II, Naples, Italy 2: C.I.S.M.E.,University Federico II, Naples, Italy 3: Department of Biological Sciences, Evolutionary and Comparative Section,University Federico II, Naples, Italy 4: CNR Institute of Protein Biochemistry, Naples, Italy

Publication date: April 1, 2012

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