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Potential of Tamarix africana and other halophyte species for phytostabilisation of contaminated salt marsh soils

Santos, Erika S., Abreu, Maria Manuela, Peres, Sara, Magalhães, Maria Clara F., Leitão, Sara, Pereira, Ana Santos, Cerejeira, Maria José
Journal of soils and sediments 2017 v.17 no.5 pp. 1459-1473
Artemia franciscana, Brachionus, Sarcocornia, Tamarix, Tripolium pannonicum, arsenic, brackish water, cadmium, chromium, copper, ecosystems, ecotoxicology, electrical conductivity, estuaries, excretion, greenhouse experimentation, halophytes, iron, landfills, lead, leaves, manganese oxides, nutrients, organic acids and salts, pH, phytoremediation, risk, rivers, roots, saline soils, salt marsh plants, salt marsh soils, salt marshes, salts, shoots, soil sampling, steel, wastes, wet digestion method, zinc
PURPOSE: Salt marsh plants are colonising wastes from a steel plant deposited on the Coina River Banks posing a potential contamination risk to the Tagus estuary ecosystem. The objectives of this study were to assess the uptake, accumulation and translocation of hazardous elements/nutrients in three spontaneous halophytic species, to evaluate the capacity of Tamarix africana to stabilise a contaminated salt marsh soil, and to evaluate the ecotoxicity of the pore water and elutriates from phytostabilised soils. MATERIALS AND METHODS: The work comprises the following: fieldwork collection of soil samples from Coina River (an affluent of Tagus River) bank landfill, estuarine water and spontaneous plants (Aster tripolium, Halimione portulacoides and Sarcocornia sp.), and greenhouse studies (microcosm assay) with T. africana growing in one landfill salt marsh soil, for 97 days, and watered with estuarine water. Soils were analysed for pH, EC, Cₒᵣgₐₙᵢc, NPK, iron and manganese oxides. Soils total (acid digestion) elemental concentrations were determined by ICP/INAA. Estuarine waters, plants roots and shoots (acid digestion), soils available fraction (diluted organic acids extraction-RHIZO or pore water), and salts collected from the T. africana leaves surface were analysed for metals/metalloids (ICP-MS). Ecotoxicity assays were performed in T. africana soil elutriates and pore waters using Artemia franciscana and Brachionus plicatillis. RESULTS AND DISCUSSION: Soils were contaminated, containing high total concentrations of arsenic, cadmium, chromium, copper, lead and zinc. However, their concentrations in the available fraction were <4 % of the total. The estuarine waters were contaminated with cadmium, but negligible ecotoxicological effect was observed. The spontaneous plants had significant uptake of the above elements, being mostly stored in the roots. Elemental concentrations in the shoots were within the normal range for plants. These species are not hazardous elements accumulators. Tamarix africana was well adapted to the contaminated saline soils, stored the contaminants in the roots, and had small concentrations of hazardous elements in the shoots. Excretion of hazardous elements by the salt glands was also observed. Elutriates from soils with and without plant did not show ecotoxicity. CONCLUSIONS: The salt marsh species play an important role in the stabilisation of the soils in natural conditions. Tamarix africana showed potential for phytostabilisation of saline-contaminated soils. The low translocation of the elements from roots to shoots and/or active excretion of the elements by the salt glands was a tolerance mechanism in T. africana.