Terrestrial environment

Assessment of Pb uptake, translocation and immobilization in kenaf (Hibiscuscannabinus L.) for phytoremediation of sand tailings

HO Wai Mun , ANG Lai Hoe , LEE Don Koo


Received November 02, 2007,Revised January 15, 2008, Accepted , Available online

Volume 20,2008,Pages 1341-1347

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The potential of kenaf (Hibiscus cannabinus L.) for phytoremediation of lead (Pb) on sand tailings was investigated. A pot experiment employing factorial design with two main e ects of fertilizer and lead was conducted in a nursery using sand tailings from an ex-tin mine as the growing medium. Results showed that Pb was found in the root, stem, and seed capsule of kenaf but not in the leaf. Application of organic fertilizer promoted greater biomass yield as well as higher accumulation capacity of Pb. In Pb-spiked treatments, roots accumulated more than 85% of total plant Pb which implies that kenaf root can be an important sink for bioavailable Pb. Scanning transmission electron microscope (STEM) X-ray microanalysis confirmed that electron-dense deposits located along cell walls of kenaf roots were Pb precipitates. The ability of kenaf to tolerate Pb and avoid phytotoxicity could be attributed to the immobilization of Pb in the roots and hence the restriction of upward movement (translocation factor < 1). With the application of fertilizer, kenaf was also found to have higher biomass and subsequently higher bioaccumulation capacity, indicating its suitability for phytoremediation of Pb-contaminated site.

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