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Phytoremediation of soil polluted by nickel using agricultural crops.

  • Giordani, Cesare
  • Cecchi, Stefano
  • Zanchi, Camillo
Published Article
Environmental management
Publication Date
Nov 01, 2005
PMID: 16215654


Soil pollution due to heavy metals is widespread; on the world scale, it involves about 235 million hectares. The objectives of this research were to establish the uptake efficiency of nickel by some agricultural crops. In addition, we wanted to establish also in which part of plants the metal is stored for an eventual use of biomass or for recycling the metal. The experiments included seven herbaceous crops such as: barley (Hordeum vulgaris), cabbage (Brassica juncea), spinach (Spinacea oleracea), sorghum (Sorgum vulgare), bean (Phaseolus vulgaris), tomato (Solanum lycopersicum), and ricinus (Ricinus communis). We used three levels of treatment (150, 300, and 600 ppm) and one control. At the end of the biological cycle of the crops, the different parts of plants, i.e., roots, stems, leaves, fruits, or seeds, were separately collected, oven dried, weighed, milled, and separately analysed. The leaves and stems of spinach showed a very good nickel storage capacity. The ricinus too proved to be a very good nickel storer. The ability of spinach and ricinus to store nickel was observed also in the leaves of cabbage, even if with a lower storage capacity. The bean, barley, and tomato, in decreasing order of uptake and storage capacity, showed a high concentration of nickel in leaves and stems, whereas the sorghum evidenced a lesser capacity to uptake and store nickel in leaves and stems. The bean was the most efficient in storing nickel in fruits or grains. Tomato, sorghum, and barley have shown a storage capacity notably less than bean. The bean appeared to be the most efficient in accumulating nickel in the roots, followed in decreasing order by sorghum, ricinus, and tomato. With regard to the removal of nickel, spinach was the most efficient as it contains the highest level of this metal per gram of dry matter. The ricinus, cabbage, bean, sorghum, barley, and tomato evidenced a progressively decreasing efficiency in the removal of nickel.


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