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Vol. xx, No. xx, 2013; Pages: xx-xx 

Phytoremediation of heavy metals by calcifying macro-algae (Nitella pseudoflabellata): Implications of redox insensitive end products

Pattiyage I.A. Gomesa, b, Takashi Asaedab

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong.


To evaluate the phytoremediation of heavy metals in water and understand the biochemistry of end products of calcifying macro algae (charophytes), an 84-wk laboratory experiment was conducted. Eighteen microcosms were maintained with and without plants. These were given different heavy metal treatments: no heavy metals, 0.2 mg L-1Cr6+ and 0.01 mg L-1 Cd. Accumulation observed to be 0.06% Cr by dry weight and for Cd it was 0.02%. The bioconcentration factors were 3000 and 25 000 for Cr and Cd, respectively. Ratios of heavy metal accumulation in alkaline (i.e., calcified areas) to acidic areas of plants were 6 to 4 (for Cr) and 1 to 1 (for Cd). This elucidated an association between heavy metal accumulation and calcification. This was validated by sequential extraction of sediments. It was shown that in microcosms with plants, the heavy metals were mainly in redox insensitive and less bioavailable carbonate bound form (39–47%). This was followed by organic-bound form (23–34%). Carbonate bound end products will ensure long term storage of heavy metals and after plant senescence these will not re-enter the water column.

Keywords:Cadmium; Carbonate bound; Charophytes; Chromium; Phytoremediation.

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