Terrestrial environment

Seedling growth and metal accumulation of selected woody species incopper and lead/zinc mine tailings

Xiang Shi , Xiaolei Zhang , Guangcai Chen , Yitai Chen , Ling Wang , Xiaoquan Shan


Received January 27, 2010,Revised August 25, 2010, Accepted , Available online

Volume 23,2011,Pages 266-274

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A greenhouse pot experiment was conducted to evaluate the potential of selected woody plants for revegetation in copper (Cu) and lead/zinc (Pb/Zn) mine tailing areas. Five woody species (Amorpha fruticosa Linn, Vitex trifolia Linn: var. simplicifolia Cham, Glochidion puberum (Linn.) Hutch, Broussonetia papyrifera, and Styrax tonkinensis) and one herbaceous species (Sesbania cannabina Pers) were planted in Cu and Pb/Zn tailings to assess their growth, root morphology, nutrition uptake, metal accumulation, and translocation in plants. Amorpha fruticosa maintained normal growth, while the other species demonstrated stress related growth and root development. Sesbania cannabina showed the highest biomass among the plants, although it decreased by 30% in Cu tailings and 40% in Pb/Zn tailings. Calculated tolerance index (TI) values suggested that A. fruticosa, an N-fixing shrub, was the most tolerant species to both tailings (TI values 0.92–1.01), while S. cannabina had a moderate TI of 0.65–0.81 and B. papyrifera was the most sensitive species, especially to Pb/Zn tailings (TI values 0.15–0.19). Despite the high concentrations of heavy metals in the mine tailings and plants roots, only a small transfer of these elements to the aboveground parts of the woody plants was evident from the low translocation factor (TF) values. Among the woody plants, V. trifolia var. simplicifolia had the highest TF values for Zn (1.32), Cu (0.78), and Pb/Zn (0.78). The results suggested that A. fruticosa and S. cannabina, which have the highest tolerance and biomass production, respectively, demonstrated the potential for tailings revegetation in southern China.

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