Exogenous plant growth regulators improved phytoextraction efficiency by Amaranths hypochondriacus L. in cadmium contaminated soil

  • Shuo Sun
  • Xiaofang Zhou
  • Xiaoying Cui
  • Chuanping Liu
  • Yingxu Fan
  • Murray B. McBride
  • Yingwen Li
  • Zhian LiEmail author
  • Ping ZhuangEmail author
Original Paper


Phytoextraction assisted by plant growth regulators (PGRs) is gaining popularity in phytoremediation applications. A pot experiment was conducted to compare the effects of foliar applications of 11 PGRs, including Indole-3-acetic acid (IAA), Indole-3-butyric acid (IBA), diethyl aminoethyl hexanoate (DA-6), 6-Benzylaminopurine (6-BA), 1-naphthylacetic acid (NAA), Abscisic acid (ABA), 2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D), Ethrel (ETH), Brassinolide (BR), Gibberellin (GA3), and Compound sodium nitrophenolate (CSN) on plant development, chlorophyll content, antioxidant enzyme activities, Cd phytoextraction capacity and micro-distribution of Amaranthus hypochondriacus L. grown in Cd contaminated soil. The effect on biomass yield was dependent on the PGRs type, with IBA being the most efficient. The addition of PGRs increased Cd extraction efficiency, with their effect decreasing in the order: IAA > DA-6 > IBA > 2,4-D > 6-BA > NAA > BR > CSN > ETH > GA3 > ABA. Application of PGRs increased Cd concentrations in leaves and stems but reduction was found in roots (except for 2,4-D). Exogenous PGRs increased the activities of stress ameliorating enzymes (SOD and CAT) and led to a reduction in MDA (malondialdehyde) concentration. In leaves, scanning electron microscope-Energy dispersive spectrometer (SEM–EDS) confirmed that application of IBA or DA-6 further fixed more Cd in upper and lower epidermal cells, which might relate to more Cd migration from roots to shoots in Amaranthus hypochondriacus L. These findings suggest that the treatment with IBA or DA-6 appears to be optimal for enhancing the phytoextraction efficiency of Amaranthus hypochondriacus L. in Cd contaminated soil.


Plant growth regulators Amaranthus hypochondriacus L. Cadmium Antioxidant enzymes Micro-area distribution Phytoextraction efficiency 



This research was financially supported by the National Key Technologies R&D Program of China (2015BAD05B05), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31670513), the Science and Technology Program of Guangdong, China (2018B030324003 and 2016A020221023), National Key R&D Program of China (2016YFD0800704), Special Program for Key Basic Research and Cultivation Project of Guangdong, China (2015A030308015), Program of Bureau of Science and Information Technology of Guangzhou Municipality (201903010022).

Author contributions

PZ and ZL designed the study; SS, XZ and XC carried out the experiments; YF and YL contributed reagents/materials/analysis tools; SS analyzed the data and wrote the manuscript; and MM and CL contributed to language modification.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

10725_2019_548_MOESM1_ESM.docx (349 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 348 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shuo Sun
    • 1
    • 2
  • Xiaofang Zhou
    • 1
    • 2
  • Xiaoying Cui
    • 1
    • 2
  • Chuanping Liu
    • 3
  • Yingxu Fan
    • 1
    • 2
  • Murray B. McBride
    • 4
  • Yingwen Li
    • 1
  • Zhian Li
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ping Zhuang
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Vegetation Restoration and Management of Degraded Ecosystems, South China Botanical GardenChinese Academy of SciencesGuangzhouPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.Guangdong Key Laboratory of Integrated Agro-Environmental Pollution Control and ManagementGuangdong Institute of Eco-Environmental Science and TechnologyGuangzhouPeople’s Republic of China
  4. 4.Section of Soil and Crop Sciences, School of Integrative Plant SciencesCornell UniversityIthacaUSA

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