Phytoextraction potential of sunflower and white mustard plants in soil contaminated with zinc

Marta Zalewska1*, and Anna Nogalska1
Phytoextraction relies on plants with a high capacity to absorb heavy metals and remove them from the soil. The objective of this study was to analyze the potential of sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.) and white mustard(Sinapis alba L.) for phytoextraction of Zn-contaminated soil. Research was based on a strict pot experiment conducted in a greenhouse. Seven treatments were established with increasing Zn concentrations: 0, 25, 50, 100, 200, 400, and 600 mg Zn kg-1 air-dry soil. The first tested plant was fodder sunflower. In the following year, white mustard was sown in the same pots. Plants were harvested at the end of the flowering stage. The toxic effect of Zn on sunflower yields occurred at the contamination level of 200 mg Zn kg-1 soil. In the second year of the experiment, a significant decrease in mustard biomass took place in response to 400 mg Zn kg-1 soil. The contamination level of 600 mg Zn kg-1 soil resulted in complete plant death. Plant growth was not inhibited even at high tissue Zn concentrations of 515 mg Zn kg-1 sunflower DM and 422 mg Zn kg-1 mustard DM. The 2-yr cropping system did not contribute to a significant decrease in soil Zn content. Despite high concentrations of Zn in sunflower and mustard plants, total Zn uptake accounted for only 1% to 8% of the Zn rate introduced into the soil. However, in the long run, the growing of crops could reduce Zn contamination levels in the soil. The relatively high tolerance of sunflower and white mustard for Zn contamination and rapid growth of these species are possible alternatives for phytoextraction and phytostabilization of Zn-contaminated soil.
Keywords: Helianthus annuus, Sinapis alba, zinc accumulation, zinc toxicity, soil contamination
1University of Warmia and Mazury in Olsztyn, Chair of Agricultural Chemistry and Environmental Protection, ul. Oczapowskiego 8, 10-718 Olsztyn, Poland. *Corresponding author (marta.zalewska@uwm.edu.pl).