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Differential Uptake and Transport of Trivalent and Hexavalent Chromium by Tumbleweed (Salsola kali)

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Experiments were conducted to determine the differential absorption of Cr species by tumbleweed (Salsola kali) as well as the effect of this heavy metal on plant growth and nutrient uptake. Tumbleweed seeds were grown in an agar-based media containing different concentrations of either Cr(III) or Cr(VI). The results demonstrated that the uptake of Cr was influenced by the Cr concentration in the growth medium and the speciation of this heavy metal. When supplied in the hexavalent form, the concentration of Cr in the different plant parts (2900, 790, and 600 mg kg–1 for roots, stems, and leaves, respectively) was between 10 and 20 times higher than the amounts found when Cr was supplied in the trivalent form. In addition, it was found that in most of the experiments, Cr(III) exhibited more toxic effects on tumbleweed plants than Cr(VI). The size of roots of plants grown in 20 mg L–1 Cr(III) were significantly smaller (p < 0.05) than those grown in 20 mg L–1 Cr(VI). Plants exposed to 20 mg L–1 Cr(III) produced shoots significantly shorter (p < 0.05) compared with the size of control plants and with those grown in 20 mg L–1 Cr(VI). In addition, the absorption of macronutrients and microelements was in general lower when the plants were grown in the medium containing Cr(III). The amounts of Cr concentrated in the aerial plant parts under experimental conditions may indicate tumbleweed as a new option for the phytoremediation of Cr-contaminated soil.

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