Plant and Soil

, Volume 334, Issue 1–2, pp 235–245 | Cite as

Antimony uptake and toxicity in sunflower and maize growing in SbIII and SbV contaminated soil

  • Martin Tschan
  • Brett Robinson
  • C. Annette Johnson
  • Annina Bürgi
  • Rainer Schulin
Regular Article


Using pot experiments, we investigated the uptake of antimony (Sb) by sunflower (Helianthus annuus L. cv. Iregi), and maize (Zea mays L. cv. Magister) in two different soils, a potting mix and an agricultural soil. In one treatment Sb was added to the experimental soils as KSb(OH)6 (“SbV-treatment”) and in the other as Sb2O3 (“SbIII-treatment”). Soluble soil Sb concentrations were linearly related to the applied Sb rates, ranging from 0.02 (controls) to 175 mg L−1 soil solution. Accumulation of Sb tended to be slightly higher in the SbV treatment in sunflower, while no difference in Sb uptake between the two Sb treatments was found in maize. The half maximal effective concentration (EC50) values derived from the dose-response curves were higher for the SbV than for the SbIII treatment when they were related to soluble soil Sb concentrations, but differences became insignificant when they were related to shoot Sb concentrations. Maize was substantially more sensitive to Sb toxicity than sunflower, indicating physiological differences in Sb tolerance between the two plant species. Our results show that on soils with high Sb contamination, as often found in shooting ranges, plants may suffer from Sb toxicity.


Antimony uptake Antimony speciation Sunflower Maize Soil contamination 



We gratefully acknowledge Anna Grünwald, Björn Studer, René Saladin and Viktor Stadelmann for their generous help and support in the laboratory. This project was financially supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation (Grants No. 200021-103768).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Martin Tschan
    • 1
  • Brett Robinson
    • 2
  • C. Annette Johnson
    • 3
  • Annina Bürgi
    • 1
  • Rainer Schulin
    • 1
  1. 1.Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule (ETH) ZurichInstitute of Terrestrial Ecosystems ITESZurichSwitzerland
  2. 2.Agricultural and Life Sciences DivisionLincoln UniversityCanterburyNew Zealand
  3. 3.Swiss Federal Institute for Environmental Science and Technology (EAWAG)DübendorfSwitzerland

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