Heavy metal accumulation and distribution in Phragmites australis seedlings tissues originating from natural and urban catchment


The retention of heavy metal (HM) was studied in root and rhizomes (BLG), stems (ST), and leaves (LF) of Phragmites australis (common reed) seedlings collected from different locations, differing in the scale of anthropogenic interference. The analysis includes the reference samples of sediments in uncontaminated lake Garczonki and contaminated roadside ditch in Cieplewo. The concentrations of Zn, Cu, Pb, Cd, Ni, and Cr were analyzed in plant tissues and sediments using the atomic absorption spectrometry and inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry. The general assessment of sediments collected in the Garczonki lake showed a good environmental status; while in the roadside ditch in Cieplewo, the sediments were considerably polluted with HM. In the first stage of plant growth, all of the analyzed HMs are mainly inhibited by BLG system. The decreasing trend of elements was as follows: BLG > ST > LF. The organs followed different decreasing trends of HM concentration; the trend Zn > Cu > Ni > Cr > Pb > Cd was found in ST and LF for the Garczonki lake seedlings and for BLG and LF for the roadside ditch in Cieplewo seedlings. Zn showed the highest concentration, while Cd the lowest concentration in each of the examined organs. The bioaccumulation factor indicated the higher mobility of HM in seedlings in the Garczonki lake than in the roadside ditch in Cieplewo. The morphological studies suggest the good state and health of seedling from both sites; however, the reduction of root hair surface was observed for the roadside ditch seedlings. The anatomical studies present changes in the size of the nucleus and count of chloroplasts in LF. No reaction on HM contamination sediments in the seedlings from the roadside ditch in Cieplewo in the aerenchyma was noted. Potentially, both types of seedlings can be used to decontaminate environments rich in HM. However, the level of HM absorbed by seedlings (in the first stage of growth) should be considered due to the behavior in the target phytoremediation site.

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The work was completed under a GRAM grant, awarded in a competitive procedure by the Dean of the Faculty of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Gdansk University of Technology. The grants are funded from science funds as specified in the Journal of Laws no. 96, item 615, as amended. The authors acknowledge the support provided by InterPhD2 program funded by the European union (Project No. POWR.03.02.00-IP.08–00-DOK/16).

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Nawrot, N., Wojciechowska, E., Matej-Łukowicz, K. et al. Heavy metal accumulation and distribution in Phragmites australis seedlings tissues originating from natural and urban catchment. Environ Sci Pollut Res (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-019-07343-9

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  • Heavy metals
  • Phragmites australis
  • Seedling
  • Macrophytes
  • Biomonitoring
  • Environmental pollution
  • Urban catchment
  • Natural catchment