Heavy metals in plants in constructed and natural wetlands: concentration, accumulation and seasonality

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

The accumulation of heavy metals in plants is a function of uptake capacity and intracellular binding sites. The concentrations of heavy metals in plants growing in constructed wetlands vary considerably between species and systems but in general, the concentrations are within the range commonly found in natural stands. The highest concentrations are mostly found in roots, followed by rhizomes, leaves and stems. Unfortunately, concentration values are commonly used to evaluate the ‘accumulation’ of heavy metals, but this approach is not correct. In order to evaluate heavy metal accumulation, the biomass of particular plant parts must be taken into consideration. In addition, there are two other factors, which need to be taken into consideration when accumulation is evaluated, namely seasonality and distribution within the plant shoot. It has been found that the seasonal distribution of heavy metals in the biomass varies between heavy metals and mostly does not follow the pattern known for nutrients. In addition, the concentration and accumulation of heavy metals vary considerably within the shoot and this fact should be taken into consideration when analyses are carried out.

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