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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract - Heavy Metals in the Environment

Heavy Metal Accumulation by the Halophyte Species Mediterranean Saltbush


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 33 No. 4, p. 1271-1279
    Received: Apr 8, 2003

    * Corresponding author(s): lutts@bota.ucl.ac.be
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  1. Stanley Lutts *a,
  2. Isabelle Lefèvrea,
  3. Christine Delpéréea,
  4. Sandrine Kivitsa,
  5. Caroline Dechampsa,
  6. Antonio Robledob and
  7. Enrique Correalc
  1. a Unité de Biologie végétale, Institut des Sciences de la Vie, Université catholique de Louvain, 5 (Bte13) Place Croix du Sud, 1348 Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium
    b Thader-consultoria Ambiental, C/Poeta Sánchez Marigal 8, 300004 Murcia, Spain
    c Consejería de Agricultura, Agua y Medio Ambiente, Centro de Investigación y Desarollo Agroalimentario, 30150 La Alberca, Murcia, Spain


To identify Cd- and Zn-accumulating plants exhibiting a high growth rate, seeds from the halophyte species Mediterranean saltbush (Atriplex halimus L.) were collected on a heavy-metal-contaminated site in southeastern Spain (Llano del Beal, Cartagena). Seedlings from this ecotype were exposed for 3 wk to 0.1 mM Cd or Zn in a nutrient solution in a fully controlled environment. All plants remained alive and no significant growth inhibition was recorded until the end of the experiment. Mean Cd and Zn accumulation in aerial parts was 830 and 440 mg kg−1, respectively, and the rate of metal translocation even increased with the duration of stress exposure. Resistance to heavy metals in this species may be partly linked to precipitation of Cd in oxalate crystals in the stems. A Cd-induced decrease in glutathione concentration also suggests that phytochelatins overproduction may occur in these conditions. We conclude that Mediterranean saltbush, which is able to produce up to 5 Mg dry matter ha−1 yr−1, may be an effective species for phytoextraction and should be tested for this purpose in field conditions.

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