Plant and Soil

, Volume 292, Issue 1–2, pp 283–289 | Cite as

Toxic effects of Ni2+ on growth of cowpea (Vigna unguiculata)

  • Peter Martin Kopittke
  • Colin J. Asher
  • Neal W. Menzies
Regular Article


Despite the importance of Ni-polluted soils throughout the world, comparatively little is known about the activity of Ni2+ required to reduce plant growth and the effects that Ni2+ toxicity has on the plant. Cowpea (Vigna unguiculata (L.) Walp. cv Caloona) was grown in dilute nutrient solutions to investigate the effect of Ni2+ activity on shoot and root growth. A Ni2+ activity of 1.4 μM was found to cause a 10% reduction in the relative fresh mass of the root and shoots. The primary site of Ni2+ toxicity was the shoots, with the younger leaves displaying an interveinal chlorosis (possibly a Ni-induced Fe deficiency) at Ni2+ activities ≥1.7 μM. Lateral root formation was inhibited in the two highest Ni2+ treatments (3.3 and 5.1 μM), and the roots growing at the highest Ni2+ activity were short and stubby and brown in color. However, no other symptoms of toxicity were observed on the roots at lower Ni2+ activities.


Ni2+ Nickel phytotoxicity Shoot and root growth Symptoms 



Cyclohexane-1,2-diaminetetra-acetic acid


Electrical conductivity


Ionic strength


Inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometry


Inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry



The authors wish to acknowledge the comments and suggestions of Dr Pax Blamey and Associate Professor Stephen Adkins for the use of the dissecting microscope. Michael Geyer is also gratefully acknowledged for his assistance with the sample preparation and analysis. This research was funded through CRC-CARE Project 3–3–01–05/6.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Martin Kopittke
    • 1
    • 2
  • Colin J. Asher
    • 1
  • Neal W. Menzies
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.School of Land, Crop and Food SciencesThe University of QueenslandSt. LuciaAustralia
  2. 2.CRC for Contamination Assessment and Remediation of the Environment (CRC-CARE)The University of QueenslandSt. LuciaAustralia

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