Environmental Geochemistry and Health

, Volume 31, Supplement 1, pp 115–124 | Cite as

The influence of arsenic speciation (AsIII & AsV) and concentration on the growth, uptake and translocation of arsenic in vegetable crops (silverbeet and amaranth): greenhouse study

Original Paper


We examined arsenic (As) uptake by vegetable crops (amaranth, Amaranthus gangeticus, and silverbeet, Beta vulgaris) as affected by As speciation (AsIII and AsV) and their concentrations in nutrient solution. Amaranth and silverbeet were grown in a nutrient solution containing four levels of arsenate (AsV): 0, 1, 5, and 25 mg As/l and three levels of arsenite (AsIII): 0, 5, 10 mg As/l. Both AsV and AsIII are phytotoxic to these crops with the latter being five times more toxic. Amaranth treated with AsIII exhibited As toxicity symptoms within 48 h of exposure and was close to death within 1 week. However, AsV treatment did not show clear toxicity symptoms other than wilting and yield reduction at the highest dose rate of 25 mg AsV/l. The main mechanism used by vegetable crops to tolerate AsV is probably avoidance—limiting As transport to shoots and increasing As accumulation in the root system. When AsV was added to the nutrient solution, the uptake of As in shoots increased and, at the highest dose (25 mg AsV/l), 60 μg As/g DW (3.6 mg/kg FW) accumulated in the edible portion, which exceeds the WHO recommended limit for food stuffs (2 mg/kg FW) as the water contents of the crops were 94%. It is therefore important to determine the nature of the As species and their bio-accessibility. Iron treatment with 0.5 mg NaFe(III)EDTA/l dose decreased silverbeet As uptake by 45% given its affinity to bind As at the root surface or root rhizosphere and so restrict As translocation to the shoots.


Arsenic speciation Greenhouse study Vegetable crops—amaranth and silverbeet Yield arsenic uptake and translocation 



The authors gratefully acknowledge the instrumental support of CERAR, CRC CARE and financial support from ACIAR in the form of a PhD Fellowship to F.R.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Environmental Risk Assessment and RemediationUniversity of South AustraliaMawson LakeAustralia
  2. 2.Cooperative Research Centre for Contamination Assessment and Remediation of the EnvironmentUniversity of South AustraliaMawson LakeAustralia

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