Assessment of cadmium and lead tolerance potential of quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa Willd) and its implications for phytoremediation and human health

Abstract

Soil contamination with Cd and Pb is a worldwide problem which not only degrades the environment but also poses a serious threat for human and animal health. Phytoremediation of these contaminated soils using halophytic plants like quinoa presents an opportunity to clean the soils and use them for crop production. The current experiment was performed to evaluate the Cd and Pb tolerance potential of quinoa and subsequently its implications for human health. Three weeks old quinoa seedlings were exposed to Cd (30, 60 and 90 mg kg−1) and Pb (50, 100 and 150 mg kg−1) levels along with a control. The results revealed that plant height decreased at highest levels of soil Cd and Pb. Shoot, root and seed dry weight decreased with increasing levels of soil Cd and Pb. Tissue Cd and Pb concentrations increased with increasing levels of Cd and Pb in soil, the highest Cd was found in roots while the lowest in seeds. The highest Pb concentration was found in shoots at low Pb level, while in roots at high level of Pb. Increasing levels of Cd and Pb stimulated the activities of measured antioxidant enzymes and decreased membrane stability index. The health risk assessments of Cd and Pb revealed that hazard quotient was < 1 for both the metals. However, the results of total hazard quotient showed that value was < 1 for Pb and 1.19 for Cd showing potential carcinogenicity. This study demonstrates that quinoa has good phytoremediation potential for Cd and Pb however, the risk of Cd toxicity is challenging for human health.

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The authors confirm that the data supporting the findings of this study are available within the article and its supplementary materials.

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Funding

The research was supported by COMSATS University Islamabad (CUI) research grant program.

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MMI, experimental work; MA, conceptualization, supervision and data analysis; GA, data analysis; ABUF and MAN, investigation and measurements; MI and BM, methodology, MN, Health risk assessment analysis; S-EJ, provided seeds and article reviewing.

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Correspondence to Muhammad Amjad.

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Amjad, M., Iqbal, M.M., Abbas, G. et al. Assessment of cadmium and lead tolerance potential of quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa Willd) and its implications for phytoremediation and human health. Environ Geochem Health (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10653-021-00826-0

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Keywords

  • Risk assessment
  • Heavy metals
  • Antioxidants
  • Halophytes
  • Translocation