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Transpiration and metabolisation of TCE by willow plants – a pot experiment

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Willows were grown in glass cylinders filled with compost above water-saturated quartz sand, to trace the fate of TCE in water and plant biomass. The experiment was repeated once with the same plants in two consecutive years. TCE was added in nominal concentrations of 0, 144, 288, and 721 mg l−1. Unplanted cylinders were set-up and spiked with nominal concentrations of 721 mg l−1 TCE in the second year. Additionally, 13C-enriched TCE solution (δ13C = 110.3 ‰) was used. Periodically, TCE content and metabolites were analyzed in water and plant biomass. The presence of TCE-degrading microorganisms was monitored via the measurement of the isotopic ratio of carbon (13C/12C) in TCE, and the abundance of 13C-labeled microbial PLFAs (phospholipid fatty acids). More than 98% of TCE was lost via evapotranspiration from the planted pots within one month after adding TCE. Transpiration accounted to 94 to 78% of the total evapotranspiration loss. Almost 1% of TCE was metabolized in the shoots, whereby trichloroacetic acid (TCAA) and dichloroacetic acid (DCAA) were dominant metabolites; less trichloroethanol (TCOH) and TCE accumulated in plant tissues. Microbial degradation was ruled out by δ13C measurements of water and PLFAs. TCE had no detected influence on plant stress status as determined by chlorophyll-fluorescence and gas exchange.
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Keywords: 13C; PLFAs; Phytoremediation; Salix viminalis; degradation; trichloroethene

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: AIT Austrian Institute of Technology GmbH, Health & Environment Department, Environmental Resources & Technologies, Konrad-Lorenz-Strasse, Tulln, Austria

Publication date: July 2, 2016

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