Sequestration of precious and pollutant metals in biomass of cultured water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes)
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The aim of this study was to investigate the overall root/shoot allocation of metal contaminants, the amount of metal removal by absorption and adsorption within or on the external root surfaces, the dose-response of water hyacinth metal uptake, and phytotoxicity. This was examined in a single-metal tub trial, using arsenic (As), gold (Au), copper (Cu), iron (Fe), mercury (Hg), manganese (Mn), uranium (U), and zinc (Zn). Iron and Mn were also used in low-, medium-, and high-concentration treatments to test their dose effect on water hyacinth’s metal uptake. Water hyacinth was generally tolerant to metallotoxicity, except for Cu and Hg. Over 80 % of the total amount of metals removed was accumulated in the roots, of which 30–52 % was adsorbed onto the root surfaces. Furthermore, 73–98% of the total metal assimilation by water hyacinth was located in the roots. The bioconcentration factor (BCF) of Cu, Hg, Au, and Zn exceeded the recommended index of 1000, which is used in selection of phytoremediating plants, but those of U, As, and Mn did not. Nevertheless, the BCF for Mn increased with the increase of Mn concentration in water. This suggests that the use of BCF index alone, without the consideration of plant biomass and metal concentration in water, is inadequate to determine the potential of plants for phytoremediation accurately. Thus, this study confirms that water hyacinth holds potential for a broad spectrum of phytoremediation roles. However, knowing whether these metals are adsorbed on or assimilated within the plant tissues as well as knowing their allocation between roots and shoots will inform decisions how to re-treat biomass for metal recovery, or the mode of biomass reduction for safe disposal after phytoremediation.
- RESEARCH: Byrne, M