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Open AccessArticle

Phytoremediation Opportunities with Alimurgic Species in Metal-Contaminated Environments

Department of Agronomy, Food, Natural Resources, Animals and the Environment, University of Padova, Viale dell’Università 16, 35020 Legnaro–Padova, Italy
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Tiziano Gomiero
Sustainability 2016, 8(4), 357;
Received: 8 January 2016 / Revised: 31 March 2016 / Accepted: 5 April 2016 / Published: 12 April 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Critical Issues on Soil Management and Conservation)
Alimurgic species are edible wild plants growing spontaneously as invasive weeds in natural grassland and farmed fields. Growing interest in biodiversity conservation projects suggests deeper study of the multifunctional roles they can play in metal uptake for phytoremediation and their food safety when cultivated in polluted land. In this study, the responses of the tap-rooted perennial species Cichorium intybus L., Sonchus oleracerus L., Taraxacum officinale Web., Tragopogon porrifolius L. and Rumex acetosa L. were studied in artificially-highly Cd-Co-Cu-Pb-Zn-contaminated soil in a pot-scale trial, and those of T. officinale and R. acetosa in critical open environments (i.e., landfill, ditch sediments, and sides of highly-trafficked roads). Germination was not inhibited, and all species showed appreciable growth, despite considerable increases in tissue metal rates. Substantial growth impairments were observed in C. intybus, T. officinale and T. porrifolius; R. acetosa and S. oleracerus were only marginally affected. Zn was generally well translocated and reached a high leaf concentration, especially in T. officinale (~600 mg·kg−1·dry weight, DW), a result which can be exploited for phytoremediation purposes. The elevated Cd translocation also suggested applications to phytoextraction, particularly with C. intybus, in which leaf Cd reached ~16 mg·kg−1·DW. The generally high root retention of Pb and Cu may allow their phytostabilisation in the medium-term in no-tillage systems, together with significant reductions in metal leaching compared with bare soil. In open systems, critical soil Pb and Zn were associated with heavily trafficked roadsides, although this was only seldom reflected in shoot metal accumulation. It is concluded that a community of alimurgic species can serve to establish an efficient, long-lasting vegetation cover applied for phytoremediation and reduction of soil metal movements in degraded environments. However, their food use is not recommended, since leaf Cd and Pb may exceed EU safety thresholds. View Full-Text
Keywords: alimurgic species; food safety; trace elements; phytoremediation; tap-rooted plants alimurgic species; food safety; trace elements; phytoremediation; tap-rooted plants
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Bandiera, M.; Dal Cortivo, C.; Barion, G.; Mosca, G.; Vamerali, T. Phytoremediation Opportunities with Alimurgic Species in Metal-Contaminated Environments. Sustainability 2016, 8, 357.

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