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Alyavouri, Ayman
Analytical Chemistry and Phytoextraction of Hexavalent Chromium with Portulaca Oleracea
Original Citation
Alyavouri, Ayman (2010) Analytical Chemistry and Phytoextraction of Hexavalent Chromium with
Portulaca Oleracea. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.
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ANALYTICAL CHEMISTRY AND
PHYTOEXTRACTION OF HEXAVALENT
CHROMIUM WITH PORTULACA
OLERACEA
AYMAN ALYAZOURI
A thesis submitted to the University of Huddersfield in
partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of
Doctor of Philosophy
The University of Huddersfield in collaboration with
the American University of Sharjah
August 2010
Dedication
To my wife:
Howayda
who gave me her full support and time whilst I
was completing this work
2
Acknowledgment
I would like to express my thanks and recognition to all the people
who gave advice and encouragement to complete this work. From those I
especially note the contributions of Dr Hassan Tayim, Dr Roger Jewsbury,
Dr Paul Humphreys and Dr Mohammad Al-Sayah who were my
supervisors. I would like to thank also Mr. Naser Abdo from the American
University of Sharjah who was a facilitator to my experiments and
analysis and Mr Habib-Alrahman from Ajman Municipality Nursery who
granted me the access, the plants and the agricultural tools to carry out the
field work.
3
Abstract
Phytoextraction in the UAE desert soil (sandy, calcareous, less than 0.5%
humus, and pH 7.9) has been studied. Twelve suspected polluted sites were
investigated for contamination with eight heavy metals and sixteen local plants from
the UAE desert were evaluated for their ability to accumulate heavy metals. The soil of
Ajman industrial zone demonstrated high amounts of total chromium (1800 mg/kg)
and of hexavalent chromium (97 mg/kg) which is a significant environmental threat.
Portulaca oleracea (Purslane) has been shown to be the best candidate for Cr(VI)
accumulation.
Total chromium concentration exceeded 4600 mg/kg in roots and 1400 mg/kg
in stems confirming the role of P. oleracea as a Cr(VI) accumulator. More than 95%
of the accumulated Cr(VI) was reduced to the less toxic Cr(III) within the plant.
The uptake of Cr(VI) by this plant has been investigated. The uptake of Cr(VI)
increased as its concentration in soil increased between 50 and 400 mg/kg. The
highest Cr(VI) uptake was observed at the high pH and low organic matter content of
soil confirming the phytoextraction efficiency of P. oleracea in soils found in the UAE.
The uptake of Cr(VI) increased in the presence of sulfate anion (suggesting that
chromate uses the same carriers of sulfate in root cells) while nitrate and phosphate
retarded the uptake. Potassium and ammonium ions, but not sodium ions, enhanced
the uptake of Cr(VI) confirming the effect of accompanying cations. EDTA enhanced
the translocation factor of chromium from roots to shoots in plants irrigated with
either Cr(III) or Cr(VI). HPLC-MS analysis showed that ascorbic acid is the main
antioxidant that reduced Cr(VI) to Cr(III) which is then mostly translocated to shoots
after chelation with organic acids such as oxalate since glutathione and phytochelatins
were not observed at significant levels in the tissues of plants exposed to Cr(VI).
4
Figures
Figure (1-1) Chromium Redox reactions in soil…………………………………………...30
Figure (1-2) Eh/pH Amended Pourbaix distribution of Cr species………..…………... 31
Figure (1-3) General Formula of Phytochelatins…………………………….…..……… 38
Figure (1-4) Chelating cadmium using PC3 phytochelatin…………………….………..38
Figure (1-5) Solubility of Cr(OH)3 at different levels of pH ………………….….………61
Figure (2-1) Map of location of soil sampling………………………………….………….79
Figure (3-1) The area of the sampled sites in the northern emirates………..………..117
Figure (3-2) Satellite photograph and detailed sketch for the polluted site in Ajman
Industrial Zone……………..………………………………………………………...………121
Figure (3-3) Concentration of chromium (VI) in the soil of Ajman Industrial Zone in
2008-200………………………………….………………………………………...…………124
Figure (3-4) Uptake of heavy metals by a range of local plants………………….……130
Figure (3-5) Concentrations of total chromium, Cr (VI) and Chromium (III) in leaves
of Portulaca oleracea at different concentrations of Cr (VI) in irrigation
solution………………………………………………………………………….……………. 136
Figure (3-6) Concentrations of total chromium, Cr (VI) and Chromium (III) in stems
of Portulaca oleracea at different concentrations of Cr (VI) in irrigation solution…137
Figure (3-7) Concentrations of total chromium, Cr (VI) and Chromium (III) in roots of
Portulaca oleracea at different concentrations of Cr (VI) in irrigation solution……137
Figure (3-8) Relation between the concentration of chromium in irrigation solution
and the total chromium in roots, stems a nd shoots of Portulaca oleracea……...……138
Figure (3-9) Dry weight of both shoots and roots of Portulaca oleracea at different
concentration of Cr (VI) in irrigation solution…………………………………...………134
Figure(3-10) The total removed chromium by the whole dry tissue of 5 seedlings of
Portulaca oleracea germinated in one pot at different concentrations of Cr(VI) in
irrigation solution………………………………………………………………………….…143
Figure (3-11) Concentrations of chromium in the roots of Portulaca oleracea at
different values of pH of Soil……………………………………..…………………………145
5
Figure (3-12) Concentrations of chromium in the shoots of Portulaca oleracea at
different values of pH of Soil……………………………………………………………..…145
Figure (3-13) Bioaccumulation and Translocation Factors of chromium using
Portulaca oleracea at different pH values of soil……………………………………..…147
Figure (3-14) Weight of dry biomass of Portulaca oleracea at controls and in presence
of Cr(VI) at different values of pH of soil……………………………………………..…148
Figure (3-15) Concentrations of total chromium in both shoots and roots of Portulaca
oleracea at different organic matter content of soil…………………………………..…150
Figure (3-16) Concentration of hexavalent chromium in soil at different percentages of
organic matter in soil……………………………………………………………………..…152
Figure (3-17) Bioaccumulation factors of total chromium and chromium (VI) at
different levels of organic content in soil……………………………………………….…152
Figure (3-18) Weight of dry shoots of Portulaca oleracea at different levels of organic
matter in soil in both control and experimental samples……………………….…….…154
Figure (3-19) Average length of roots in the presence of nutrient anions ……..……156
Figure (3-20) Tolerance indexes of chromium(VI) in the presence of nutrients
anions…………………………………………………………………………………………157
Figure (3-21) Concentration of Chromium in roots and shoots of P. oleracea using
different nutrient anions beside Cr(VI)……………………………………………………158
Figure (3 -22) Bioaccumulation factors for chromium (VI) in Portulaca oleracea in
the presence of nutrient anions……………………………………………………….….…160
Figure (3-23) Translocation factors for chromium (VI) in Portulaca oleracea in the
presence of nutrient anions……………………………………………………………….…160
Figure (3-24) Concentrations of chromium in roots and shoots of P. oleracea irrigated
with 200 ppm of chromium (VI) at different concentrations of sulfate……………..…163
Figure (3-25) Concentration of chromium in roots of P. oleracea at the different levels
of sulfate in irrigation solution (half concentrations)………………………………..….163
Figure (3- 26) Concentrations of sulfur in roots and shoots of P. oleracea irrigated
with 200 ppm of chromium (VI) at different concentrations of sulfate……………..…164
Figure (3-27) Concentration of sulfur in roots of P. oleracea at the different levels of
sulfate in irrigation solution (half concentrations)………………………………………165
Figure (3-28) Bioaccumulation factors of sulfur and chromium in the roots of P.
oleracea at different concentrations of sulfate……………………………………………167
Figure (3-29) Translocation factors of sulfur and chromium from roots to shoots of P.
oleracea at different concentrations of sulfate……………………………………………167
6
Figure (3-30) Tolerance Indexes of chromium in P. oleracea in presence of
accompanying cations of chromate……………………………………………………..…171
Figure (3 -31) Concentration of chromium in dry tissues of P. oleracea irrigated with
chromate accompanied with different cations……………………………………………171
Figure (3-32)Uptake of Cr(III) by roots and shoots in the presence of EDTA and citric
acid…………………………………………………………………………….............……..175
Figure (3-33) Weight of whole dry plants in one pot at different chelating agents
added with chromium(III)………………………………………………………………..….178
Figure (3-34) Weight of whole dry plants in one pot at different chelating agents
added with chromium(VI)………………………………………………………………..…180
Figure(3-35) Mass Spec. Chromatogram showing the retention time and intensity of
ascorbic acid, dehydroascorbic acid, glutathione and glutathione oxidised in shoots of
Portulaca irrigated with 50 ppm of chromium(VI)………………………………………184
Figure (3-36) Ascorbic acid (M-1= 175) and dehydroascorbic acid (M-1 = 173) in
shoots of Portulaca irrigated with 50 ppm of Cr(VI)……………………………………185
Figure (3-37) Glutathione (M-1 = 306.08) in shoots of Portulaca irrigated with
deionised water (control)………………………………………………………………..….185
Figure (3-38) Oxidised glutathione (M-1= 611.16) in shoots of Portulaca irrigated
with 50 ppm of Cr(VI)……………………………………………………………………….186
Figure (3-39) Concentration of total ascorbic acid (sum of ascorbic and
dehydroascorbic acid in the whole fresh plant of Portulaca oleracea at different levels
of Cr(VI) in irrigation solution…………………………………………………………….187
Figure (3-40) Concentration of total thiols (sum of glutathione and glutathione
oxidised) in the whole fresh plant of Portulaca oleracea at different levels of Cr(VI) in
irrigation solution…………………………………………………………………….………187
Figure (3-41) Concentration of total ascorbic acid (sum of ascorbic and
dehydroascorbic acid in roots and shoots of Portulaca oleracea at different levels of
Cr(VI) in irrigation solution……………………………………………………………...…188
7
Tables
Table (1-1) Plant nutrients, their classification, and their quantity in dry weight …...35
Table (2-1) Chemicals, their purity classification and their manufacturers.................67
Table (2-2) Characteristic wavelengths of metal cations determined using ICP-OES
and their detection limits ...................…………………………………………………...….69
Table (2-3) Soil composition at different values of pH ………………………….…..……91
Table (2-4) Organic matter in the soils and the components of each type……….……92
Table (2- 5) Concentrations of Components of Irrigation solutions in the presence of
200 ppm of Cr(VI) ……………………………..….…………………………………..………98
Table (2- 6) Concentrations of Components of Irrigation solutions in the presence of
100 ppm of Cr(VI)……………………….………..………………………………………….100
Table (3-1) Concentration of heavy metals in soil samples of different sites in northern
emirates of UAE. ………………………………………………………………….…………118
Table (3-2) Concentration of total chromium in east coast black sand, Kalba and
Ajman industrial zone……………………………………………………………………..…119
Table (3.3) Concentrations of the cations and anions and the pH of soil………….…122
Table (3.4) Concentrations of total and hexavalent chromium in the soil of the site
from October 2008 to June 2009…………………………………………………………..122
Table (3-5) Predicted chromium (VI) species in the soil extract of the polluted site
using PHREEQC programme………………………..…………………………..…………123
Table (3-6) Predicted chromium (III) species in the soil extract of the polluted site
using PHREEQC programme……………………………………………..………..………123
Table (3-7) Analysis of dry plants growing in suspected polluted sites for some heavy
metals uptake………………………………………….………………………………………127
Table (3-8) Concentration of heavy metals in different parts of Cyperus conglomerates
naturally growing in Dadnah Coast (DC)……………………………………………...…128
Table (3-9) Bioconcentration Factor BCF for some investigated naturally growing
plants…………………………………………………………………………………….…..…128
Table (3-10) Bioconcentration factors (BCF) for some heavy metals………………...130
Table (3-11) Uptake of Pb (II), Cr( VI ) by two types of mesquite plants of UAE ….132
8
Table (3-12) Bioconcentration factors for lead and Cr(VI) in mesquite (Prosopis
species)……………………………………………………………………………………...…133
Table (3-13) Concentration of chromium in dry plant tissues of Cr(VI)
accumulators……………………………………………………………………………….…139
Table (3-14) Percentages of reduction for chromium (VI) in roots, stems and leaves of
Portulaca at different concentrations of Cr (VI) in the irrigation solution ………..…140
Table (3-15) Bioaccumulation and translocation factors to leaves and stems at
different concentrations of chromium (VI) in irrigation solutions …………………..…141
Table (3-16) The total removed chromium in the total dry weight of the whole 4 plants
in each pot at different levels of pH of soil……………………………………………..…149
Table (3-17) Bioaccumulation and Translocation Factors of total chromium using
Portulaca oleracea at different organic matter content of soil……………………...…153
Table (3-18) Iron and manganese in the polluted soil of Ajman industrial zone….…154
Table (3-19) Bioaccumulation and translocation factors for chromium and sulphur in
P. oleracea at different concentration of sulfate…………………………………………166
Table (3-20) Total removed amount of chromium in the total dry weight of 4 seedlings
of P. oleracea grown in one pot……………………………………………………….……168
Table (3-21) Sums of concentrations of both chromium and sulphur in roots of
Portulaca at different levels of sulfate in irrigation solution ……………………...……169
Table (3-22) Bioaccumulation factors and translocation factors of chromium in P.
oleracea in the presence of accompanying cations of chromate…………………….…173
Table (3-23) Bioaccumulation and translocation factors of chromium (III) in
Portulaca in the presence of chelating agents……………………………………………175
Table (3-24) Uptake of chromium (VI) in roots and shoots of Portulaca in the presence
of EDTA and citric acid……………………………………………………………………..179
Table (3-25) Bioaccumulation and translocation factors of chromium (VI) in
Portulaca in the presence of EDTA and citric acid…………………………………...…179
Table (3-26) Concentration of ascorbic acid ASA, dehydroascorbic acid DASA,
glutathione GSH and glutathione oxidised GSSG in fresh tissues of Portulaca at
different concentrations of Cr(VI) in irrigation solution …………………………….….186
Table (3-27) Concentration of total chromium in roots and shoots of Portulaca
irrigated with 50, 100 ppm of chromium hexavalent……………………………………188
Table (3-28) The concentration of extracted chromium at different pH values…...…192
Table (3-29) The concentration of chromium before and after treatment using the sand
of the emirates ……………………………………………………………………………..…192
9
Table (3-30) The concentration of chromium before and after the electrodeposition
technique………………………………………………………………………………………193
10
Index
Chapter 1
Introduction
……………………………………………………….………. 17
1.1 Preamble
……………………………………………….……….. 17
1.2 Background
…………………………………………………… 17
1.2.1 Remediation of contaminated sites
1.2.2 Phytoremediation
………………………………………….. 21
1.3.3 Toxic metals and heavy metals
1.2.4 Phytoextraction
……………………….. 20
……………………………. 23
……………………………………………. 24
1.2.5 Ideal plants for phytoextraction
…………………………… 26
1.2.6 Applicability of phytoremediation in UAE
…..…………… 27
1.3 Chromium in soil; chemistry and phytoaccumulation......................27
1.3.1 Climatic and geochemical conditions of soil of UAE
1.3.2 Geochemistry of chromium
….….. 27
…………………………….…...29
1.3.3 Chromium in industry …………………………………….... 32
1.3.4 Toxicity of chromium for humans and plants
1.3.5 Plant nutrients and its uptake
………….….. 33
……………………………..... 34
1.3.6 Uptake and accumulation of heavy metals in plants
1.3.7 Phytoremediation of chromium
……...... 36
……………………….…......40
1.3.7.1 Chromium (VI) and common accumulators
……….......42
1.3.7.2 Phytoextraction and rhizofiltration of Cr(VI) …............... 43
1.3.8 Factors affecting chromium (VI) uptake by plants.…….............49
1.3.8.1 Effect of concentration of Cr(VI) in soil or
wastewater on the uptake of Cr(VI) by plants
11
………......49
1.3.8.2 Effect of pH of soil on the uptake of Cr(VI) by plants......50
1.3.8.3 Effect of organic content of soil on the uptake of
Cr(VI) by plants
……………………………................52
1.3.8.4 Effect of nutrient anions and accompanying
cations on the uptake of Cr(VI) by plants
…………....52
1.3.8.5 Effect of sulfate anions on the uptake of Cr(VI)
by plants
……………………………………………....55
1.3.8.6 Effect of chelating agents on the uptake of
Cr(III) and Cr(VI) by plants
……………………….….57
1.3.9 Re-extraction of chromium from contaminated biomass
1.3.10 Gaps in the previous work
1.4 Scope of the present work
........59
……………………………....….61
………………………………………...…64
Chapter 2
Experimental and methodology
…………………………………………67
2.1 Chemicals and reagents .....................………………………………....67
2.2 Instruments and equipments .................................................................68
2.3 Quality assurance ..................................................................................73
2.4 Exploring suspected polluted soils ………………………………... 78
2.5 Screening of local plants for potential heavy metal phytoextraction ....83
2.6 Factors affecting Cr(VI) uptake by Portulaca oleracea ……………..87
2.6.1 Investigation of effect of concentration of Cr(VI) in soil on its
uptake by Portulaca oleracea …………………………………88
2.6.2 Effect of pH of soil on the uptake of chromium(VI) by Portulaca
oleracea
……………………………………………………….89
2.6.3 Effect of organic content of soil on the uptake of Cr(VI) by
Portulaca oleracea
…………....................................................91
12
2.6.4 Effect of nutrient anions on the uptake of Cr(VI) by Portulaca
oleracea ……………………………………………………….95
2.6.5 Effect of sulfate on the uptake of chromate by Portulaca
oleracea ...............................................................................…96
2.6.6 Effect of accompanying cations on the uptake of Cr(VI) by
Portulaca oleracea ………………………………………….102
2.6.7 Effect of chelating agents on the uptake of Cr(III) and Cr(VI)
by Portulaca oleracea ………………………………………..103
2.7 Effect of chromium (VI) on the concentration of sulfur containing
proteins and ascorbic acid in Portulaca oleracea …………………... 106
2.7.1 Effect of chromium (VI) on the concentration of ascorbic
acid and glutathione in Portulaca oleracea .............................107
2.7.2 Effect of chromium (VI) on the concentration of glutathione
And PC3 phytochelatins in Portulaca oleracea ......................111
2.8 Techniques for the treatment of polluted plant biomass …………... 112
2.8.1 Extraction and determination of chromium in polluted plants....112
2.8.2 Removal of chromium from the dry biomass of Portulaca
oleracae
2..9 Sampling of soil
……………………………………………………....114
………….............………………………………….115
2.10 PHREEQC programme ........................................................................115
Chapter 3
Results and Discussion ……………………………………………..….…. 117
3.1 Exploring suspected polluted soils ………………………..………....117
3.1.1 The polluted site of Ajman industrial zone …………...……….121
3.2 Screening of local desert plants for potential heavy metal
phytoextraction activity ……………………………………......….....125
13
3.2.1 Investigation of natural plants growing in the suspected
polluted sites
…………………………………………….…..125
3.2.2 Investigation of recommended desert plants …………….…..129
3.2.3 Investigation of mesquite species for the accumulation of lead
and hexavalent chromium
…………………………………...132
3.3 Factors that may affect chromium (VI) uptake by P. oleracea ….....135
3.3.1 Effect of concentration of Cr(VI) in soil on its uptake by
Portulaca oleracea
……...……………………………...….....135
3.3.2 Effect of pH of soil on the uptake of chromium (VI) by
Portulaca oleracea
……………………………………..….…144
3.3.3 Effect of organic content of soil on the uptake of Cr(VI) by
Portulaca oleracea
…………...................................................140
3.3.4 Effect of nutrient anions on the uptake of Cr(VI) by Portulaca
oleracea ……………………………………………………..155
3.3.5 Effect of sulfate anions on the uptake of Cr(VI) by
Portulaca oleracea ……….....…………………………..…..….161
3.3.6 Effect of accompanying cations on the uptake of Cr(VI) by
Portulaca oleracea
………………………………...……..….170
3.3.7 Effect of chelating agents on the uptake of Cr(III) and Cr(VI)
by Portulaca oleracea …………………………………....….174
3.3.8 Maximising the uptake of Cr(VI) using P. oleracea ……....…181
3.4 Effect of chromium(VI) on sulfur containing proteins and ascorbic
acid in Portulaca oleracea
……....................................…….……...182
3.4.1 Investigation of the antioxidants of chromium (VI) in
Portulaca oleracea ......................................................................183
3.4.2 Effect of chromium(VI) on the concentration of glutathione
14
and PC3 phytochelatins in P. oleracea ........................................190
3.5 Techniques for the removal of chromium from the polluted dry
plant biomass of P. oleracae
…………………..……………….....191
Chapter 4
Conclusions and Recommendations …………………………………….195
4.1 Conclusions ...............................................................................................195
4.2 Recommendations......................................................................................120
References
………………………………………………………………...203
Appendices ...................................................................................................215
15
List of abbreviations
ANOVA
ANRCP
ASA
ATP
BAF
BCF
BDL
CERCLA
DASA
DC
DEFRA
EDTA
EPA
ESI
FEA
GSH
GSSG
HPLC
ICP-OES
MT
PC
TCLP
TF
TI
TOF-MS
UAE
UFLC
USGS
VAM
WHO
Analysis of Variance
Amarillo National Resource Center for Plutonium
Ascorbic Acid
Adenosine Triphosphate
Bioaccumulation Factor
Bioconcentration Factor
Below Detectable Limit
Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability
Act
Dehydroascorbic Acid
Dadnah Coast
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Ethylenediaminetetra-acetic acid
Environmental Protection Agency
Electrospray Ionisation
Federal Environmental Agency
Glutathione
Oxidised Glutathione
High Performance Liquid Chromatography
Inductively Coupled Plasma Optical Emission Spectroscopy
Metallothionein
Phytochelatins
Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure
Translocation Factor
Tolerance Index
Time of Flight Mass Spectrometer
United Arab Emirates
Ultra fast liquid chromatography
United States Geological Survey
Vascular Arbuscular Mycorrhizas
World Health Organization
16
CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION
1.1 Preamble
As human civilization progresses, there is always a price to be paid. When one
generation pays the price for health and safety, the hope is that the next will not. This
study focuses on the remediation of soil polluted by the toxic and carcinogenic heavy
metal chromium (VI). The origin of the problem is the existence of a metallic
extrusion factory which mainly uses chromic acid and discharges waste to an open site
nearby, a problem aggravated by this polluted site being located within an urban area.
This site was discovered by surveying twelve suspected polluted sites. In addition,
another survey was carried out on sixteen plants to identify suitable candidate for
phytoremediation. It is in brief the attempt to find an accumulator plant which will
absorb, translocate, and then accumulate the toxic pollutant in its aerial tissue. The
factors which may affect the uptake and the chemistry of the chromium within the
plant were also studied.
1.2 Background
Soil pollution or contamination is the mixing of hazardous substances with the
natural soil. These pollutants maybe attached to the particles of soil or trapped within
them. The sources of soil pollutants, in general, are spilling or burying liquid or solid
17
industrial wastes such as petroleum hydrocarbons, pesticides, chemical solvents, heavy
metals and radionuclides in the soil. Soil pollution can harm plants, animals and
humans. Plants may uptake these pollutants which drastically affect the growth of
these plants. Pollutants may reach animals and humans through the food chain. Some
pollutants can be absorbed through skin and others can be inhaled through airborne
dust or small particles of soil.
Sometimes soil contamination can occur naturally because of the existence of
natural ores of some heavy metals such as lead, cadmium, mercury and chromium or
radionuclides. In this case, mining activities can spread these pollutants or expose
them to some factors such as acid rain or water streams that may leach them to the soil.
Historically, the problem of soil contamination has been aggravated by the
rupture or damage of underground storage tanks resulting in leaching of pollutants.
Improper land filling also resulted in severe pollution of the subsurface soil. In the
USA, a federal law for cleaning the contaminated sites, Comprehensive Environmental
Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), was issued in 1980 [1]. This
action increased the awareness of soil pollution, put many restrictions to prevent this
offence, and stimulated the efforts to discover and clean up thousands of sites of
underground storage of wastes. More than 200,000 polluted sites were identified for
remediation.
In the UK, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA)
published (in 1990) the soil guidelines values which determined the maximal accepted
18
limits for each substance in soil. These regulations were modified and included details
for each soil pollutant and how to implement these guidelines such as: improvements
to contaminated land guidance and guidance on the legal definition of contaminated
land which were issued by DEFRA in 2008. 1n 2009, a scientific report named human
health toxicological assessment of contaminants in soil was issued [2].
In UAE, several governmental environmental agencies such as the Federal
Environmental Agency (FEA 1993-2009), Ministry of Water and Environment which
undertook the competences of FEA since it was closed in 2009, Environment Agency
in Abu-Dhabi-1996 and Dubai Municipality were established. In spite of that, the
implementation of environmental regulations is still at an early stage especially in the
northern Emirates. In the last four decades, the oil and gas industries have prospered in
the UAE, and in the absence of implementation of environmental regulations, large
quantities of chemical waste have been dumped on and under the ground. Mining and
metal industries are expanding in all of the Emirates and many factories and
workshops are working without effective waste control. Some are transferring their
waste to landfills and others are accumulating their waste in sites beside their factories.
In relatively poor emirates such as Sharjah and Ajman, there is no real separation
between inhabited areas and the industrial zones. The landfill sites are very close to
populated areas and sometimes there is (offensive) overlapping between them.
Suspected contaminated sites also exist in the east coast of the UAE. This area is rich
in black sand which contains chromite, the major ore of chromium (a mixture of
Cr(III) and Fe(II) oxides).
19
1.2.1 Remediation of contaminated soils
Contaminated soils can be remediated using physical, chemical, or biological
techniques. Soil vacuum and soil washing are physical techniques and oxidation,
neutralisation, and soil flushing are chemical ones [3]. Both physical and chemical
techniques will alter the composition of soil and may stop all of the beneficial
biological activities such as the role of bacteria and fungi in soil. Biological techniques
of remediation essentially depend on the natural organisms of soil such as bacteria or
yeast for the biodegradation of organic pollutants [4].
Remediation techniques may also be classified as ex-situ and in-situ
techniques:

Ex-situ techniques involve remediating polluted soil away from the
contaminated sites after the excavation and translocation of the polluted
soil to prepared sites. Sometimes pre-treatment chemical or biological
processes should be applied before the final treatment. Therefore ex-situ
techniques are costly in general.

In-situ techniques are relatively cheap since they take place in the
same contaminated site. The aim of in-situ remediation is to decrease
the concentration of the pollutant to accepted levels by adding liquids or
gases to the soil either to enhance the conditions of organisms work or
to react directly with pollutants. Oxygen is a good example for both
actions [2]. One of the relatively new in-situ biotechniques is
20
phytoremediation since living cells of plants are the bio-reactors in
which the remediation process takes place.
1.2.2 Phytoremediation
Phytoremediation is defined as the use of plants to remediate [5] (contain,
remove, or degrade) [6] soil or water pollutants. It is a promising technique for
reducing the organic and inorganic pollutants to the accepted levels. Phytoremediation
techniques can be thought of as involving three generations or categories. The first is
the discovery of accumulators or the plants that can tolerate, absorb, and accumulate a
specific pollutant in their tissues. The second is enhancement of phytoaccumulation
using chemical reagents such as chelating agents or controlling conditions of soil such
as pH, available ions or organic content of soil. The third is enhancement of
phytoaccumulation using genetic modification of the accumulator plants, whereby the
characteristics of the plant can be modified to increase its potential to tolerate more
quantities of pollutants [7]. This type of research is still in its infancy and most of the
research work in the field of phytoremediation is in the first and second categories for
reasons related to the difficulty of developing equipment and capabilities that are
required for third generation.
Phytoremediation process takes place in the rhizosphere [8], the area of soil
which contains roots and their activities (tillage area), or inside the plant tissues.
Accordingly different phytoremediation techniques have appeared in the literature. The
21
nature and characteristics of pollutant also have a large effect on the phytoremediation
technique since the response of the plant towards the pollutants depends on the nature
of the pollutant. The response to organic pollutants differs from the inorganic and the
uptake of anions differs from cations or metals uptake.
Phytosequestration or phytostabilization is one of the external mechanisms
of phytoremediation. It is the prevention of mobility of the inorganic pollutants [9]
such as heavy metals. This can be achieved by the precipitation or immobilization of
the pollutants in the rhizosphere. Different causes are suggested for phytosequestration
such as Vascular Arbuscular Mycorrhizas (VAM) fungi which reduce the
bioavailability of heavy metals by fungi-metal binding. The exudates of the plants like
organic anions and hydroxides to the soil alter the pH of soil; therefore the mobility of
heavy metal will be affected. Rhizo-degradation is another external mechanism of
phytoremediation. It is relevant to the degradation of organic pollutants in rhizosphere
area [10, 11] by enhancing the oxygenation of the subsurface soil to initiate the role of
the microorganisms in the aerobic biodegradation of these organic pollutants. The
roots of the plant play an important role in the oxygenation process. This can take
place either physically by aeration of the soil during the growth of roots or chemically
by direct secretion of oxygen [11].
Phytodegradation is a mechanism of phytoremediation in which organic
pollutants are biodegraded [12] using the specific exudates from roots. It is still a
matter of research to determine whether degradation takes place inside or outside the
22
plant tissue but it is accepted that the fragments of the organic pollutants are being
translocated from the roots to the shoots of the plant.
Phytoextraction and rhizofiltration are internal techniques of remediating
inorganic pollutants such as toxic metals, metalloids and radionuclides [11]. The first
is relevant to the use of plants in the removal of toxic metals from contaminated soils
and the second belongs to the removal of heavy metals from wastewater.
1.2.3 Toxic metals and heavy metals
Toxic metals are the group of metals which have a poisonous effect on human
health. Many elements can be listed under this category such as beryllium, cadmium,
antimony, mercury, lead and bismuth. Heavy metals, defined as metals with a density
of more than 5 g/cm3 [13], represent the majority of the toxic metals. Sixty-five of the
known elements fall into this category including iron, the fourth most abundant
element in the earth’s crust.
Heavy metals can also be defined as a group of metals and metalloids which
are associated with pollution and toxicity [14]. However some of these elements are
essential for living organisms at low concentrations [15]. Heavy metals can reach the
environmental systems of soils and waters from the industrial and mining effluents and
from natural resources if the area contains some ores of the heavy metals which may
leach to the soil and water through water streams or acid rains.
23
Not only the total element concentration but also more information about the
oxidation state and binding form of the element (speciation) is required because the
speciation also gives information on the mobility and therefore availability of the
metal to living organisms, and their potential toxicity [16]. Speciation of heavy metals
in contaminated soil or wastewater is also necessary for choosing the right technique
of its removal or remediation.
1.2.4 Phytoextraction
Phytoextraction is defined as the potential of plant to uptake heavy metal
pollutants from soil by the roots and to translocate and accumulate them in the aboveground parts of plant [5, 9] such as shoots, leaves and stems. Normal plants have the
ability to exclude and reduce undesired heavy metals up to 100 mg/kg but to uptake
the nutrient elements up to 3% of its dry weight. The plant can be classified as a
hyperaccumulator if it has high potential to accumulate heavy metals relative to the dry
weight of plant, for example more than 0.1% (1000 mg/kg) for chromium, cobalt,
copper, and nickel and more than 1.0% of both of zinc and manganese [17, 18]. To
fulfil the removal process of heavy metals using hyperaccumulators these plants
should be harvested after accomplishing the treatment process and safely disposed of
by incineration [19]. As a technique of heavy metals removal and compared with other
chemical and physical techniques, phytoextraction has the following merits [17, 6]:
24

it is easy and cheap compared with other ex-situ techniques which require
excavation, transportation, using chemicals and washing, and in some cases
returning the remediated soil to the original site,

phytoextraction technique is very efficient and represents rational solution
when it reduces pollutant to below tolerated concentrations,

the harvested biomass can be used either as bio-energy resource, or for plant
fibres production,

this technique gives a pleasant view for the treated sites since vegetation and
remediation are inseparable,

using phytoextraction, some plant nutrients such as selenium can be
translocated from a highly contaminated site to another poor one, and

using this technique, some precious metals could be extracted from soils
containing small non-commercial quantities of them. For example gold was
extracted from soil using Brassica juncea (Indian mustard) and Chilopsis
linearis (desert willow) [20, 21].
However there are some restrictions for the use of phytoextraction. They include the
following:

it is a slow (long term) technique compared with other physio-chemical
techniques [6],

pollutant concentration should be in the range of plant tolerance since plants
cannot grow in severely contaminated sites, therefore, phytoextraction is
restricted to sites of moderate contamination[22], and
25

in soils of high carbonate content, which have basic pH values, heavy metal
cations exist as insoluble forms of metal hydroxide which reduces their uptake
by plants.
1.2.5 Ideal plants for phytoextraction
From 250,000 higher plants, only a limited number has been tested for
phytoremediation or phytoextraction and among these tested plants only a small
number has been founded to be hyperaccumulators. In general, a promising
accumulator for a specific heavy metal is not necessarily efficient for another. One
of the most efficient hyperaccumulators is Sebertia accuminata . This plant grows
on metalliferous soil and can accumulate 260 g of zinc in one kilogram of its dry
weight [23]. The Brassica family which includes broccoli and Indian mustard
grows very fast producing considerable biomass. It has the ability to accumulate
many heavy metals such as Cd, Cr (VI), Cu, Pb, Ni, and Zn more efficiently than
many other plants [24, 25]. General characteristics of ideal accumulators can be
summarized as follows [26]:

the ability to uptake heavy metal in roots then translocate it to shoots and
accumulate high quantities of it without being severely affected,


high rate of growth and production of big biomass and ease of harvesting,
good ability of adapting especially outside its area of collection including
resistance to disease and pests [27], and

production of a profuse and deep root system.
26
1.2.6 Applicability of phytoremediation in UAE
The severe weather conditions in the Arabian Peninsula may suggest the plants
of this environment as strong candidates for phytoextraction. These plants in general
can tolerate hard conditions of hot climate, high salinity, high pH, and have
exceptional potential for absorbing water from soil. Some plants which are available in
the desert of UAE like Prosopis species were investigated in El-Paso, Texas which has
similar climate conditions, and were found to yield promising results in accumulating
lead and chromium [28, 29]. These results, beside the high tolerance of hard
conditions, may form good motivation to investigate desert plants of UAE as
accumulators for heavy metals in the soil of UAE.
1.3 Chromium in soil; chemistry and phytoaccumulation
1.3.1 Climatic and geochemical conditions of the soil of UAE
United Arab Emirates (UAE) is one of the fastest developing countries in the
Middle East. The total area of the UAE is about 82,880 sq. km [30]. Oil export is the
backbone of its economy but industrial activities have increased significantly over the
last three decades. In 2008 and according to the Ministry of Finance and Industry the
investment in the industrial field was about 77 billion dirham (£14 billion) [31].
Ajman is one of the seven emirates comprising the UAE. It is the smallest
Emirate in area - about 260 sq. km - and surrounded to its north, south, and east by the
Emirate of Sharjah. Approximately 95% of the population of the emirate of Ajman
27
reside in the city of Ajman. The population was only 361,000 in 2008 [32] and has
grown considerably due to an influx of people from the neighbouring emirates of
Dubai, Sharjah, and other countries.
Ajman has an arid subtropical climate, with sunshine all year round. The
hottest months are between June and September, when temperatures can soar to 113°F
(45°C) and more during the day and humidity levels are very high [33]. Even the sea
temperature reaches 104°F (40°C) during the summer months. Temperatures are only
slightly more moderate over the rest of the year; the coolest time being between
December and April. There is very little rainfall in UAE but when showers do fall it is
mainly in the cooler months [34].
The soil of UAE is sandy granular with small amounts of silt and clay. Sand
particles (2.0 – 0.05 mm) form about 95-97% of the soil of UAE [35]. The soil is very
poor in organic matter content and in most cases organic matter does not exceed
(0.5%). So, organic matter should be added frequently to maintain water and to
enhance fertility [36]. The Arabian gulf shoreline is a classic carbonate coast
(calcareous) [37] where calcium carbonate represents considerable component of the
soil of UAE ranging from 25- 42% in the upper surface 10 meters of soil which raises
the pH of the soil to 7.9 ± 0.1[36, 38].
The soil of UAE is saline due to frequent planting and irrigation using saline
waters. These activities plus the hot climate lead to the accumulation of higher
amounts of salt in the soil. Ajman is located adjacent to the sea and the level of soil is
28
lower than the level of sea. So, sea brackish water flows normally covering the soil
forming a salt flat known as sabkha. This sabkha area contains mainly dolomite
(calcium and magnesium carbonate) and halite (sodium chloride) [38].
1.3.2 Geochemistry of chromium
Chromium is a solid silvery heavy metal located in group 6 and period 4 of the
periodic table. The average atomic mass of chromium is 51.996 a.m.u and its atom
contains 24 electrons configured as [Ar] 3d54s1. It is a transition element and it can be
present in multiple oxidation states ranging from -2 to +6. The most common and
stable oxidation states of chromium in the environment are +3 and +6 [39]. Chromium
(IV) and (V) are reported to form as unstable intermediates in redox reactions between
Cr(III) and Cr(VI) [40].
Chromium is available in different environmental systems. It is the 21st most
abundant element in earth’s crust with a concentration of 100 mg/kg [41]. The major
ore of chromium in earth crust is chromite, FeCr2O4, which is a mixed metal oxide of
Cr(III) and Fe(II) ions [42]. The concentration of chromium in soil ranges from 1 to
1000 mg/kg with an average of 40 mg/kg in the soil of USA [43, 44].
In soils, chromium (III) oxide (Cr2O3) and chromium hydroxide (Cr(OH)3 ) are
the most common species of the oxidation state +3 and both of them are sparingly
soluble in water [45]. Chromium (III) may be adsorbed by soil particles which prevent
its leaching to the groundwater but hexavalent chromium exists as soluble species
such as H2CrO4 , HCrO4- , CrO42- and dichromate Cr2O72- [46].
29
Speciation of chromium in soil and water solutions is affected by the presence
of organic matter and the inorganic compounds Fe(OH)3, MnO2, and CaCO3[45 - 48].
Organic matter, iron element, and Fe(II) in soil and usually reduce Cr (VI) to Cr (III).
Conversely Mn(III) and Mn(IV) will oxidize Cr(III) to Cr(VI) [40]. Calcium carbonate
does not affect Cr(VI) in solution but it decreases the amount of dissolved of Cr(III) by
precipitation as Cr(OH)3 [47]. Figure (1-1) shows the oxidation-reduction interactions
between chromium, iron, and manganese species in soil [40].
Figure (1-1) Chromium Redox reactions in soil. [40]
30
The pH value has a strong effect on redox reactions and, consequently, on
speciation and mobility of chromium in soil and wastewater. The diagrams of the
activities of Eh (half- reaction reduction potential) vs. pH can be very useful in
understanding the redox status of a system [48]. Figure (1-2) is a modified diagram of
Pourbaix showing the most dominant chromium species at different values of Eh and
pH[49].
Eh(v)
H2CrO4
Cr2O72HCrO4-
Cr3+
Cr(H2O)63+
Cr++
Cr(OH)2
Cr
Figure (1-2) Eh/pH modified Pourbaix distribution of Cr species [49].
In acidic soils and solutions (pH<4), chromium(III) mostly exists as hexaaquachromium(III), [Cr(H2O)6]3+, which will interchange into trihydroxychromium
31
Cr(OH)3 as the pH increases [50]. Chromium (VI) may exist as soluble sodium
chromate or sparingly insoluble CaCrO4 in neutral-alkaline soils, but in acidic soils
HCrO4- becomes the dominant form [39, 40]. As the concentration Cr(VI) increases in
highly acidic aqueous systems, hydrochromate ion may be converted to dichromate
Cr2O72- [39] as illustrated in equation (1-1). Chromium (VI) in acidic solution reveals a
very high oxidative behaviour in the presence of electron donors. The reduction of
HCrO4- is accompanied by the consumption of H+ as in equation (1-2) but in more
basic solutions the reduction of CrO42- evolves OH- as shown in equation (1-3) [38].


Cr2O72- + H2O
(1-1)
 Cr3+ + 4H2O
HCrO4- + 7H+ + 3e- 
(1-2)
 Cr(OH)3 + 5OHCrO42- + 4H2O + 3e- 
(1-3)
2HCrO4-
Dissolved oxygen has no direct effect on the oxidation- reduction changes of
chromium in the environment but it may oxidize Mn2+ to Mn(III) or Mn(IV) which
oxidise Cr(III) to Cr(VI) [39, 40].
1.3.3 Chromium in industry
Chromium may reach the environment as waste from metallurgical applications
since 80% of chromium produced world- wide is being consumed in this sector of the
industry [41]. Chromium has many uses in industry especially in steel, pigments, and
refractory industries. It is also common in the field of plating since it gives shiny
surface to the plated metals. Chromium sulfate is being used in leather tanning giving
32
leather the green-blue colour. Chromium is used with copper and arsenic as a wood
preservative system resisting the fungi and insects that may induce decay [50].
Chromic acid is commonly used to increase the surface inert layer of the aluminium
oxide as protecting technique for aluminium. This anodizing [51] is frequently used in
Ajman metal extrusion factory. All of the previous industries form important sources
for waste chromium which pose great dangers to the safety of environment.
1.3.4 Toxicity of chromium for humans and plants
Chromium (III) is an essential micronutrient for mammals and humans. It is
also believed to be important for the activity of insulin [52]. However, chromium (VI)
is classified by World Health Organization (WHO) as a human carcinogen. Studies in
Germany, England, and USA concluded that there is a correlation between lung cancer
and working in the field of chromate and dichromate production [53]. Cases of
gastrointestinal tract cancer were reported among ferrochromium workers and
chromium plating industry workers [54]. Chromium (VI) is known to cause damage to
respiratory tract tissues [55] and has toxicological effects such as ulcers, corrosive
effects on the nasal septum, and harmful effects on kidneys, liver, and skin [53]. The
US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) set a limit of 100 μg/L of total chromium
Cr(III) and Cr(VI) in drinking water and 52 μg/m3 of the same pollutant in the inhaled
air for 8-hour work shifts[56]. EPA issued the Toxicity Characteristic Leaching
Procedure (TCLP) in soil which sets the maximum tolerated concentration of
33
contaminants for toxicity characteristic. The limit for chromium is 5 ppm by this
procedure [57].
The toxicity of Chromium (VI) is related to its fast reduction which is
associated with the oxidation of components of the living tissues [58] producing
reactive intermediates such as Cr(V) and Cr(IV) in addition to reactive oxygen which
may react with protein and cause DNA damage [59]. For plants, chromium is not
known to be an essential nutrient. Some studies indicate that small concentrations of
chromium (III) may stimulate the growth of plants [60], but many other studies
suggested the toxic role for both chromium (VI) and (III). Hexavalent chromium
compounds are more toxic than chromium (III) due to their solubility and permeability
through cell membranes and their ability to oxidise the intracellular proteins and
nucleic acids [61]. It has been reported that Cr (VI) is potentially toxic to higher plants
at total tissue concentrations of 5 mg/kg dry weight [55]. Symptoms of chromium
toxicity are accompanied by insufficient chlorophyll (chlorosis) as a result of the
inhibition of translocation of both iron and zinc from roots to shoots [62]. The pH of
soil has strong effect on the chromium phyto-toxicity since at low pH (≥5.5) both of
Cr(III) and Cr(VI) are available in soil. At higher pH range only Cr(VI) is available
and this increases its toxic effect on plants.
1.3.5 Plant nutrients and their transporters
Plants can get their available and soluble nutrients from soil. These nutrients
are divided according to their needed amounts for plants into: macronutrients such as
nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus which are essential for the plant to complete life
34
cycle normally and are needed in considerable quantity [63], or micronutrients which
are needed as trace elements such as boron and molybdenum. Table (1-1) shows the
plant nutrients and their quantities in dry plant.
Table (1-1) Plant nutrients, their classification, and their quantity in dry weight [63].
Macronutrients
Micronutrients
Used in exceptionally large quantities
Used in small
(30-60 mol/kg) dry wt.
quantities
C, H, and O.
(0.001-2.00 mmol/kg) dry wt.
Used in moderate quantities (30-1000
mmol/kg) dry wt.
B, Cl, Co, Cu,
Fe, Mn, Mo, Ni,
N, P, K, Ca, Mg, and S
Si, Na, Zn, and Va.
Nutrient ions can be transported to root cells through specific transporters since
root cell membranes prevent ions or charged species passing through. These
transporters can be divided into three categories:

Primary pumps are cell membrane proteins which control the secretion of H+
out of the cell to regulate the pH of cell and neutralise the charge [63]. These
proton pumps (H+ -ATPase) utilize up to 50% of adenosine triphosphate (ATP)
energy of root cell [64] indicating that it may represent the major path for
nutrient cations uptake in plants such as K+, NH4+. Electrochemical gradient
35
controls the flow of ion in or out of the cell membrane. It is the resultant of the
effect of two opposite deriving forces, the first is chemical and related to its
concentration in cell and the second is the trans-membrane potential which
equals 120 mV under ideal conditions.

Coupled transporters are protein molecules of cell membrane. They transport
two types of ions at the same time either in one direction which called symport
or in two different directions as antiport. In symport process plant may take up
two counter ions (anion and cation) such as nitrate accompanied with proton.
Sulfate and phosphate may be taken up the same way. Antiport uptake may
include the secretion of ion simultaneously with the uptake of another both of
them are the same in charge for example the secretion of OH- ions when taking
up another anion like nitrate or sulfate [63, 64].

Channels are high selective transport proteins which allow the movement of
some specific ions such as K+ or Ca2+. Sulfate may also be transported using
high- affinity transport proteins available at cell membrane [63, 65].
1.3.6 Uptake and accumulation of heavy metals by plants
It is accepted that the total heavy metal content of the soil is not a real indicator
for its availability to plants [66]. To study the heavy metal availability in soils, several
factors like inorganic salts, pH and organic content of soil have to be taken in
consideration. These factors affect the speciation of the heavy metals in the soil. Not
only does the bioavailability of a heavy metal affect its uptake by plants but also plant
metabolism [67]. Some plants may exclude some heavy metals in spite of their
36
availability in soil as a phytostabilization process [9]. In conclusion, when evaluating
the phytoremediation capability of a plant, it is important to determine the real
accumulated quantity of heavy metal in the plant.
Plants uptake metals, in general, as cations but some metals such as Cr(VI) can
be taken up as anions. Both cations and anions have different pathways in the uptake
and detoxification by the plant tissues. Plants can uptake heavy metal cations either
using the primary pumps of H+ or the coupled transporters (the transporters of the
nutrient cations). The secreted protons from the primary pumps may acidify the soil
increasing the solubilised cations [68] which enter the roots. The process of heavy
metal cations accumulation begins by the bonding between the heavy metal cation and
ligands such as organic acids (citrate, oxalate and malate) or sulfur containing proteins
forming complexes. Finally, these heavy metal complexes are transported and
sequestered in the vacuole [69]. Two types of sulfur-containing low molecular weight
proteins were identified as ligands in the accumulator plant tissues: metallothionein
(MT) and phytochelatins (PC). Metallothioneins are cysteine-based proteins with low
molecular weight ranging between 3500 and 14000 amu and present routinely in
animals and fungi as a response to heavy metals toxicity. Metallothioneins have been
found in a limited number of plants such as wheat, wall cress, and cotton [70- 72].
They play roles in root development and fruit ripeness [72] but there is no strong
evidence confirming their role for heavy metals detoxification in plants.
37
Phytochelatins are glutathione-based proteins with the general formula (γGlu-
Cys)n-Gly where the repeated unit is (glutamate – cysteine) and n = 2-11 (Figure 13). Phytochelatins have been induced as natural ligands in higher plants [73] by
different heavy metal cations such as cadmium, lead and mercury. Both
metallothioneins and phytochelatins are complexing ligands for heavy metal cations
but not anions like chromate and dichromate. Figure (1-4) shows the chelation of
cadmium using the phytochelatin PC3 [74]. Organic acids such as citric acid and oxalic
acid also play important role in the sequestration of heavy metals such as zinc and
chromium [75].
Figure (1- 3) General Formula of Phytochelatins
Figure (1-4) Chelating cadmium using PC3 phytochelatin [74].
38
It is thought that plants take up the anions that contain heavy metals such as
chromate and arsenate in a way similar to the uptake of nutrient anions. Chromate and
3
sulfate are believed to use the same carriers [76] while arsenate may use the phosphate
carriers [77]. Arsenate [As(V)] is reduced to As(III) and coordinated by three
glutathione molecules as AsIII-tris-glutathione complex. It is also suggested that
glutathione is used as reducing agent for arsenate [78]. The roles of ascorbic acid and
glutathione as reducing agents for chromium (VI) have been shown in living cells of
both animals and plants [79, 80]. Ascorbic acid is a well known antioxidant found in
both animal and plant cells. Glutathione is a simple protein which can be produced by
the condensation of the three amino acids: glutamic acid, cysteine and glycine.
Equations (1-4) and (1-5) illustrate the reduction of Cr(VI) to Cr(III) using ascorbic
acid and glutathione respectively.
3
2CrO42-+2 H2O
3
Ascorbic Acid
6
2Cr3+ + 10 OH-
(1- 4)
Dehydroascorbic Acid
+ 2CrO42-+2 H2O
Glutathione
3
Glutathione oxidised
+ 2Cr3+ + 10 OH-
39
(1- 5)
After the reduction of chromate inside the plant tissues, Cr(III) may be chelated using
either phytochelatins or organic acid complexes. After Eichornia crassipes was
supplied with Cr(VI) in nutrient culture, Cr(VI) was reduced to Cr(III) in roots and
cations were subsequently translocated to stems and leaves. The researchers in this
study suggested that chromium (III) may form a chelate with oxalate as organic
complexing ligand [81] giving the complex ion [Cr(C2O4)3]3-. With another plant,
Leptospermum scoparium, it was found that most of the absorbed Cr(VI) was
accumulated in roots again as tris(oxalato)chromate (III) [82] .
1.3.7 Phytoremediation of chromium
The merits of phytoremediation technique as compared to other techniques of
heavy metals removal and the toxicity of chromium have led to research in the field of
chromium phytoremediation. Many studies concentrated on rhizofiltration or the
removal of chromium from hydroponic systems for the ease of experimental design
[83, 84], but other studies used phytoextraction technique in studying the removal of
chromium from polluted soils [85 - 87].
Early studies were carried out on chromium uptake by plants but they treated
the chromium uptake as a problem of crops and plants contamination. Therefore, most
of these studies were using plants of food crops such as wheat, barley and oat [88 -90].
Common vegetables were also investigated for hexavalent chromium absorption and
results indicated that total chromium uptake decreased in the order: cauliflower> kale>
cabbage> peas> collard> strawberry> lettuce> spinach>chive > celery> onion. These
40
crops were supplied with 1 mg/ L Cr(VI) and the concentration of total chromium in
roots ranged between 500 and 0 mg /kg in dry roots and between 250 and 0 mg/ kg in
dry shoots [91].
Many plants were investigated and some of them were classified as
hyperaccumulators for chromium (III) but because of the high toxicity of Cr(VI) a
small number of plants were classified as Cr(VI) accumulators. Plants are classified as
hyperaccumulators if the concentration of chromium exceeds 1000 mg/kg of the dry
weight of plant [17, 18]. Two other important factors that should be taken in
consideration for accumulator plants are bioaccumulation and translocation factors.
Bioaccumulation factor (BAF) (bioconcentration coefficient) is the ratio of
concentration of metal in dry roots (mg/kg dry weight) to the concentration of metal in
dry soil or wastewater (mg/kg or ppm) [92, 93] while translocation factor, (TF), is the
ratio of concentration of metal in dry shoots to its concentration in dry roots. The
values of more than 1.0 for both BAF and TF are indication for a promising
accumulator plant [92, 94].
Tolerance Index (TI) can give another indication about the growth of the roots
of plant in the presence of pollutant. It can be calculated as the ratio of the length of
roots of experimental relative to roots of control [95, 96]. In normal cases, it equals the
value of 1.0, but when the plant is exposed to stress of toxic pollutants, this ratio is
expected to decrease.
41
1.3.7.1 Chromium (VI) and common accumulators
The high toxicity of chromium (VI) reduced the number of accumulators that
may phyto-extract this pollutant. Even the common accumulators for heavy metals of
Cd, Ni and Zn, such as willow (Salix spp) [97] and Indian mustard (Brassica juncea )
[61], when investigated for their tolerance and uptake of chromium (VI), their results
were not encouraging. Only traces of chromium were absorbed and translocated by 20
species of willow. In this experiment, equal concentrations of both Cr(III) or Cr(VI)
were used and the results were approximately the same regardless of the chromium
species used [98].
Brassica juncea showed a reduction in the total dry mass by 48% when
stressed by 20 mg/kg of Cr(VI) in soil compared with plants in control experiments.
The concentration of chromium in plant tissues did not exceed 18 mg/kg of dry weight
of leaves, stems and roots [61]. Similar results were obtained for the same plant
(Brassica juncea ) when germinated in 100 mg/kg Cr(VI) soil; the concentration of
chromium in shoots was about 20 mg/kg and less than 400 mg/kg in roots [99]. The
same plant was investigated for Cr(VI) and Cr(III) accumulation but it did not
accumulate more than 1800 mg/kg in roots [100]. Although this concentration is
regarded as relatively high compared with other results for the same plant and the same
pollutant [61, 98], it is still low compared with other heavy metal pollutants using the
same plant (B. juncea can accumulate up to 6,000 mg/kg of lead in its dry weight)
[101]. This study also concluded that Brassica juncea is not a good candidate for
phytoextraction of Cr(VI) from polluted sites with low concentrations of chromium
42
(VI) [100]. These discouraging results of willow and Indian mustard with Cr(VI)
suggest the need for further search for efficient Cr(VI) accumulators.
1.3.7.2 Phytoextraction and rhizofiltration of Cr (VI)
According to their response to the heavy metal in soil, plants can be divided
into three categories:

excluders which reject the uptake of heavy metal and then keep it in minor
quantities in aerial tissues of plant regardless of the concentration of heavy
metals in the soil,

indicators which uptake the heavy metal to a concentration dependent upon the
concentration of this metal in soil, and

hyperaccumulators which are plants that can accumulate the heavy metal in
total plant to levels of concentrations far exceeding its concentration in soil
[102].
Some studies were carried out on chromium (III) which is very low in toxicity
to plants compared with chromium (VI). As a conclusion they made inaccurate
generalizations such as discovering hyperaccumulators for chromium without
determining if they were for Cr(III) or Cr(VI). Other studies used some natural
polluted soils or wastewaters which contain mixtures of chromium (III) and chromium
(VI) [103- 105]. These studies measured the total chromium in the polluted source and
the total chromium in the plant tissue and finally suggested accumulators for
43
chromium in general or for chromium (VI) without regard to the proper design of the
experiments in their investigations.
A report issued from Amarillo National Resource Center for Plutonium
(ANRCP) reviewed some accumulators for chromium. According to that report only a
few plant species were identified as chromium hyperaccumulators when grown in high
chromium soils [62]. The report mentioned ten plant species as chromium
accumulators but did not determine if these ten plant species were accumulators for
Cr(III) or Cr(VI). One of these plants is Leptospermum scoparium (Myrtaceae) which
can accumulate 20,000 mg/kg of Cr in the ash of the plant. This is a considerable
quantity related to ash but when calculated regarding the dry weight of the plant this
concentration will decrease by a factor of 30 to 50. This means that chromium in the
dry weight of the plant will be about 400- 600 mg/kg which is below the value of 1000
mg/kg. The same report suggested Berkheya coddii as a chromium accumulator even
though the concentration of chromium in the dry weight of the plant was 238 mg/kg
which is a small amount compared with real accumulators which should fulfil the
condition of 1000 mg/kg of dry weight. In the following literature review, welldesigned experiments that introduced known concentrations of chromium (VI) in the
soil or irrigation solutions are described taking in account; the accumulated amounts of
chromium in the different plant tissues, the growth of the plant and the effect of the
pollutant on it, the conditions of the experiments especially the tolerated concentration
of Cr(VI), and the environment of germination such as soil or hydroponic cultures in
each previous study.
44
Leersia hexandra (Gramineae) Chinese natural plant was investigated for its
potential as chromium (VI) and chromium (III) accumulator [83]. Plant seedlings were
grown in Hoagland’s nutrient solution. Both Cr(III) and Cr(VI) were added in six
concentrations ranging from 0 to 60 ppm of Cr(III) and 0 to 30 ppm of Cr(VI). The
plant could accumulate up to 3300 mg/kg of dry roots and 2160 mg/ kg of dry leaves at
the Cr (VI) concentration of 30 mg/L. No significant decrease of biomass in the leaves
of Leersia hexandra was observed and the plant grew rapidly with a great tolerance to
chromium in the cultures of Cr (III). However, at the concentration of 20 ppm of Cr
(VI) there was a significant decrease in the biomass of the leaves [83]. The pH of the
hydroponic system was not mentioned in this study in spite of its importance for Cr
(VI) speciation and Cr (III) availability. The researchers in this study avoided
calculating the translocation factor from roots to shoots which was below 0.4 in most
of their samples. Instead of that they calculated the bioaccumulation coefficient from
the nutrient solution to shoots which is normally a higher ratio.
Typha angustinfolia which is a kind of Typhaceae plant species was
investigated for Cr(VI) tolerance in contaminated soil [85]. No change in plant growth
or height was observed in plants which were exposed to 100 μM and 0 μM Cr(VI) but
significant reduction in both height and biomass of the plant at concentrations of 200
– 800 μM Cr(VI) was observed. The highest concentration of total chromium was
encountered in the roots of the plant and was 177.5 mg/ kg when the plant was exposed
to 800 μM Cr(VI) – about 41.6 ppm- for 30 days [85].
45
Larra tridentata (Creosote bush grows in south western of North America)
showed high ability for chromium (VI) accumulation [84]. Seedlings were grown in
hydroponic solution of 520 ppm Cr(VI) and pH of 5.0. Three replicates were
performed in this experiment using fluorescent light at room temperature. During 48hr time period of a flow rate of 2mL/hr of Cr(VI) solution, there was no evidence of
chromium toxicity. After the analysis of the dried tissues of the plant, the
concentrations of Cr(VI) in roots, stems and leaves were 57400 mg/kg, 14200 mg/kg
and 19300 mg/kg, respectively [84]. These concentrations represent the highest among
all the investigated plants for chromium (VI) accumulation but the short time of
germination is not enough time to evaluate the plant tolerance for the pollutant.
Azolla caroliniana , the small water fern, was investigated for Cr(VI), Cr(III)
and Hg(II) accumulation [106]. For Cr(VI) investigation, 0.1, 0.5 and 1.0 mg/L
concentrations of Cr(VI) were introduced to the plants as potassium dichromate. The
existence of Cr (VI) decreased the growth of biomass of plant by 20-27 % and the
highest concentration of chromium in plant tissue was 350 mg/kg [106]. The
concentration of pollutant in dry weight of plant is considerable regarding the small
concentration of the pollutant in the culture solution (1.0 mg/L) but this small
concentration of chromium does not form a real test for Cr(VI) tolerance and
accumulation. In spite of the importance of the pH of hydroponic culture, it was not
mentioned in this study.
46
Zea mays (corn) was investigated for its ability to uptake Cr(III) and Cr(VI)
[86]. Four replicates were grown in either pure sand (silica quartz) or natural soil with
pH of 7.2 and 7.8 respectively. The concentrations of the irrigation solutions ranged
between 0.5 -25 ppm. The plant showed an increased chromium accumulation as the
concentration of both Cr(III) and Cr(VI) was increased in soil and sand (pure silica).
The highest concentration of total chromium 1824 mg/kg was observed in roots when
the concentration of Cr(VI) in pure sand was 25.0 ppm. At the same concentration of
Cr(VI) in irrigation solution, the total chromium in roots decreased to 580 mg/kg. The
concentration of chromium (III) in shoots was more than in roots but conversely in
case of Cr(VI). The growing of roots when plants were irrigated by Cr(III) was more
than in the plants irrigated by Cr(VI) [86].
In another study, thirty six plants were investigated for chromium (III) and (VI)
accumulation [87]. These plants were grown in pots containing contaminated soil
either by chromium (III) or chromium (VI). There was a reduction in weight of all
plants grown in Cr(VI) but there was no indication of biomass reduction with Cr(III).
Among the 36 plants only three plants survived (alkali sacaton, switch grass and
Bermuda grass) in soil contaminated with 500 mg/kg of Cr(VI). Chromium
concentration in the shoots of all the other plants exceeded the 1000 mg/kg in the dry
weight of shoots and all of these plants died [87] apparently due to the high content of
Cr(VI) in soil.
47
A promising hyperaccumulator for Cr(VI) was introduced by J.L. GardeaTorresdey et al. [107]. Convolvulus arvensis seeds were germinated in an agar-based
nutrient mediums which were spiked with concentrations ranged between 0 and 80
ppm of Cr(VI). There was a reduction in the growth of roots and the biomass of the
plants as the concentration of Cr(VI) was increased. The accumulated chromium in
roots at 20 ppm was about 20,000 mg/kg of dry weight which is extraordinary amount
but this amount was to decline to 8600 mg/kg at the concentration of 80 ppm.
Convolvulus arvensis accumulated about 2100 mg/kg of chromium(VI) in dry leaves
when it was germinated for 15 days in an agar- based nutrient medium of 20 ppm
Cr(VI) and this amount was approximately the same in the three concentrations of
Cr(VI) [107]. According to the accumulated amounts of Cr(VI), this plant is
considered to be a very promising hyperaccumulator for hexavalent chromium. This
plant normally grows in Europe and North America and not common in the desert
climate of UAE. In addition to that, a useful accumulator would have to be shown to
be tolerant to local soil or water rather than an agar based nutrient medium.
In another study [108], six weed plants from Thailand were used and three
replicates from each type were performed. The plants were grown for 120 days in three
soils with either 100, 200 or 400 mg/kg of Cr(VI). A reduction of growth was observed
in all the plants at the three soils. Cynodon dactylon accumulated 1500 mg/kg Cr(VI)
in dry weight of roots. The concentration of total chromium in the tissues of the other
five plants did not exceed 180 mg/kg at the same concentration of chromium (VI) in
soil [108].
48
In recent study [109], Prosopis laevigata was investigated for its ability for
Cr(VI) accumulation. Seeds were germinated in culture tubes containing nutrient
solution supplemented with potassium dichromate at pH of 5.8. Their results were very
promising since the seedlings accumulated up to 8000 mg Cr/kg of dry root weight and
5000 mg/kg in shoots. In spite of the high accumulation of chromium, translocation
factors of chromium using this plant stayed below 0.7. Another Prosopis species was
investigated before at pH of 5.3 [28], this calls for further investigations in real soil
and at higher pH conditions similar to the UAE where more than one type of Prosopis
naturally grow.
1.3.8 Factors affecting chromium (VI) uptake by plants
There are two types of factors that may affect the uptake of chromium (VI) by
plants. The first type comprises factors related to the speciation of chromium (VI) in
soil such as concentration, pH of soil and the organic content of soil. The second type
of factors is related to the accompanying cations or competitive anions of chromate or
dichromate.
1.3.8.1 Effect of the concentration of Cr(VI) in soil or wastewater on the uptake of
Cr(VI) by plants.
In general as the concentration of the heavy metal in soil increases, its uptake
and accumulation in the accumulator plant tissues will increase [110-112]. Regarding
Cr(VI) accumulation Zhang et al. [83] suggested this and their results indicated that
the uptake of Cr(VI) was increasing in both roots and shoots as the concentration of
Cr(VI) in soil increased. The results obtained by Bennicelli et al. [106] and
49
Sampanpanish et al. [108] are in agreement with this conclusion. The same conclusion
was obtained by Shewry and Peterson [89] when they introduced Cr(VI) to barley
seedlings. They observed an increase in chromium uptake and translocation as
chromium was increased in the nutrient solution. This relation stays consistent till the
plant reaches the phytotoxic concentration which varies from accumulator to another.
A study with Convolvulus arvensis grown in agar- based medium and irrigated with
three concentrations of chromium (80, 40, and 20 ppm) [107] has been reported. The
highest uptake of chromium (VI) was observed at the lowest of these concentrations
(20 ppm). The authors of this study observed a decline in the uptake of chromium as
the concentration of the Cr(VI) was increased [107]. This may be explained by the
phytotoxic limit which may reached by plants at high concentrations where the
biomass will be reduced and as a result, the total removed amount of the pollutant will
decrease. It is very important to determine the concentration at which the best removal
of pollutant will be achieved.
1.3.8.2 Effect of pH of soil on the uptake of Cr (VI) by plants
Chromium (VI) is available for plants at a wide range of pH especially in basic
medium like the soil of Ajman and UAE in general. It exists as chromate anions and
will be neither reduced nor adsorbed but available in the soil and this poses an
environmental challenge [88]. In acidic medium, it exists as dichromate which is
highly oxidising and toxic to plants. Iron in the soil of UAE exists as Fe2O3 [113 -114]
and this will not affect Cr(VI), while in the presence of Fe2+ (at pH <5), Cr(VI) can be
reduced to Cr (III) [115]. All the previous studies which measured the effect of pH on
50
the uptake of Cr(VI) were carried out on nutrient crops plants[89, 116] or fungi and
microorganisms[117, 118]. However very little, or no work, was done on the study of
the effect of pH of soil on the uptake of Cr(VI) by non-crop plants as potential
accumulators of Cr(VI).
It was found that the uptake of dichromate by barley seedlings from
hydroponic culture was doubled when the pH of soil was increased from 3.0 to 6.7
[89]. In this previous study the researchers introduced Cr(VI) as chromate anion which
is known to exist as dichromate at this low range of pH. The range of pH in their
experiment was limited to the acidic and neutral range (3.0 - 7.7) and it did not cover
the high range of pH up to 9.0 to take deeper overview of chromium uptake with
regard to different pH values. Cary et al. [116] expanded the range of pH from 5.0 to
8.0 while studying the effect of pH on the uptake of Cr(VI) by wheat. They observed
an increment in the uptake as pH increased from 5.0 to 6.0 but they observed a
decrease in Cr(VI) uptake from 6.0 to 8.0. Chromium (VI) in this study was introduced
as chromate in the hydroponic culture. Both of the two previous studies did not justify
their results regarding the change of pH or chromium speciation at this change. In the
aquatic fungi Aspergillus foetidus, there was an increase of Cr (VI) uptake when pH
was increased over the range 4.0–7.0 [117]. In another study [118], it was found that
chromium (VI) was accumulated by microorganisms with highest concentration at pH
9.0 as compared to pH 7.0 or 8.0.
51
1.3.8.3 Effect of organic content of soil on the uptake of Cr (VI) by plants
The organic content of soil is commonly effective in the reduction of Cr (VI) to
Cr (III). Poorly organic soils such as the soil of UAE which contains an organic
content of less than 0.5% do not provide an effective reducing environment for Cr(VI).
Previous studies investigated the role of the organic content in soil on the reduction
and the uptake of chromium (VI) by plants [62, 119 -121]. All of these studies
confirmed the essential role of organic content of soil in the reduction of Cr(VI) to the
less toxic and less soluble Cr(III). Investigation of the effect of organic content on
phytoextraction of Cr(VI) in high pH soil does not appear in the literature.
1.3.8.4 Effect of nutrient anions and accompanying cations on the uptake of Cr
(VI) by plants
The mutual effect of anions and accompanying cations on the uptake of each
other by the plant was studied specifically for the nutrient ions of plants. The
introduction of potassium associated with H2PO4- stimulated its uptake more than in
KCl solution in fungi [122]. In barley, the plant accumulated higher amounts of
potassium when introduced as KNO3 as compared to KCl [123]. It is worth pointing
out that chloride is not a plant nutrient, unlike phosphate and nitrate anions. The effect
of counter ions seems to be important in understanding the relation between the uptake
of an anion and its accompanying cation especially in the presence of coupled
transporters which may explain the simultaneous uptake (co-transport) of both.
Sodium cations efflux from root cells was increased when the plants were grown in
solution of K2SO4 but decreased with KCl solution [122, 124]. The difference here was
the counter anion; it was a nutrient in the first but not in the second case which may
52
suggest the co-uptake of both potassium and sulfate. The uptake of anions such as
nitrate or phosphate will stimulate the formation of organic anions such as malate and
oxalate inside the plant tissues or efflux OH- anions but the uptake of cations such as
NH4+ will initiate the efflux of H+ to the nutrient medium around the plant [124 -126]
which can be understood according to the role of primary pumps of H+.
Effect of associated cations on the uptake of nutrient anions was studied in
some plants but the effect of cations on the uptake of pollutant anions such as
chromate, dichromate or arsenate has not been studied deeply. In a detailed study by
John Raven [126], it was suggested that when plant uptakes nitrogen as ammonium
cations, hydrogen cations will be produced in response. This produced H+ will be
excreted to the surrounding medium and will react with anions and molecules. These
reactions of H+ consumption or OH- production will facilitate the uptake of anions
such as SO42- and SeO42-[127]. The effect of common anions such as nitrate, sulfate,
chloride and hydrogen carbonate on the uptake of perchlorate anions by lettuce plant
was also investigated [128]. A hydroponic system was used and the results of this
study indicated that both nitrate and hydrogen carbonate inhibited the uptake of
perchlorate. The researchers in this study justified the effect of nitrate as being due to
that both anions have the same carrier. The effect of hydrogen carbonate was attributed
to the co-transport of H+/HCO- across the plasma membrane [128].
Some researchers indicated that the presence of chromium (VI) as dichromate
enhanced the concentration of phosphorus in the leaves of citrus plants but not in the
roots [129]. The authors of this study did not introduce any explanation to the effect of
53
Cr(VI) on the uptake of phosphorus [129]. Opposite results were attained in radish
plant irrigated by Cr (VI) in pot experiment at 10, 50,100 mg/kg of Cr (VI). The
amount of phosphorus decreased in both roots and shoots [130].
In a recent study, the effect of available nitrogen on the removal of both Cr(VI)
and Cr(III) from hydroponic system by willow plants was investigated [131]. Nitrogen
was introduced as NaNO3 and Cr(VI) as K2Cr2O7. No significant variation of Cr(VI)
removal was observed between N- free and N- containing nutrient solutions. They
used five replicates from each type of solutions and found out that the presence of
nitrogen has positive effect on the translocation of chromium from roots to stems and
leaves. But the reality is that the uptake in roots was reduced significantly with minor
or no observed increase in shoots so when translocation efficiency was calculated (the
numerator stays as it and denominator is reduced) they got enhancement in the
translocation. The researchers in this study did not indicate anything about the growth
of the plants or the biomass during the 8 days of experiment [131].
The effect of chromium (VI) on the growth and development of Arabidopsis
thaliana seedlings was also investigated [132]. Small concentrations of chromium (less
than 10.4 ppm) were used and no growth of roots was observed. Cr(VI) was
introduced as potassium dichromate (at pH 5.7) with or without one of the nutrient
anions (nitrate, sulfate or phosphate). The three nutrient anions resumed primary root
growth in medium with dichromate. The lengths of roots were of 73%, 83% and 70%
with SO42-, PO43- and NO3-, respectively, compared to the lengths in medium free of
Cr2O72- [132].
54
In a recent study, the effect of nutrient anions and cations on the uptake of
arsenate anions by the accumulator Pteris vittata was investigated [133]. The
experiments were done as four replicates for each type in hydroponic system. It was
concluded that both potassium and calcium enhanced the uptake of arsenate as counter
anions. This study also indicated that both nitrate and phosphate anions reduced the
amount of absorbed arsenate by roots and this may be due to competition between
these anions and arsenate. This study did not mention the accompanying cation to
arsenate in this investigation and probably did not take it into account, which
represents a gap in the experimental design. It seems that the effect of accompanying
cations such as Na+, K+ and NH4+, and the role of some nutrient anions such as nitrate,
sulfate and phosphate on the uptake of Cr(VI) by plants need further investigation.
1.3.8.5 Effect of sulfate anions on the uptake of Cr (VI) by plants
It is suggested that chromate is taken up by plants using the same cellular
transporters as sulfate in the plant cell membrane [78, 79, 134 -136]. This may be a
consequence of the similarity in geometry, charge and size [137, 138] of both sulfate
and chromate. Heavy metal accumulation will induce the plant to form thiols
(glutathione and phytochelatins) and chromium (VI) may inhibit the uptake of sulfate
which is required to produce thiols. Chromium(VI) causes a high stress on the plant, it
not only may inhibit the formation of thiols but also, it may oxidise the available of
them.
The effect of chromate on the uptake of sulfate by two types of Zea mays
grown in hydroponic system was investigated [135]. The authors of this study used
55
both deprived and supplemented sulfate systems. Chromium (VI) was introduced as
potassium chromate (without mentioning the pH of medium). They observed that
chromate reduced the uptake of sulfate by the two types of plants. An opposite
observation was found by other authors, [129] indicated that the presence of Cr(VI)
enhanced the uptake of sulphate by roots of citrus plants.
Others investigated the effect of deprivation of sulfate on the uptake of
chromate by wheat [136]. A hydroponic system with nutrient solution was used with
pH of 6.0 ± 0.1. Chromate was added as 70 ml of 1 ppm Cr(VI) to both, with and
without sulfate solutions. They concluded that sulfate is a strong inhibitor of chromate
removal from wastewater [136]. This conclusion seems to be unreliable since they
found that the absence of sulfate enhanced the uptake of Cr(VI) but they did not study
the effect of different concentrations of SO42- on the uptake of Cr(VI). From another
point of view, they used a solution of pH 6.0 at which most of the Cr(VI) is available
as dichromate not chromate (as they suggested). This will alter the competition
between SO42- and CrO42- and can be classified as defect in the design of the
experiments.
Stylosanthes hamata SHST1 gene is a high-affinity sulfate transporter located
in the plasma membrane of plant cells. According to Lindblom and his colleagues [76],
the initiation of SHST1 in Indian mustard, which is a common hyperaccumulator,
increased the accumulated amount of Cr (VI) in roots from 750 mg/kg to 1100 mg/kg
and in shoots from 30 mg/kg to 50 mg/kg. The plant was grown in a hydroponic
system, where chromium was introduced as potassium chromate with concentration of
56
5 ppm (the pH of solution was not mentioned). The enhancement of the uptake of
chromium after this genetic modification of Brassica juncea may provide the evidence
for the role of sulfate in enhancing the uptake of Cr(VI). B. juncea was investigated
before for Cr(VI) accumulation and the result was not encouraging enough [61]. The
opposite conclusions related to sulfate-chromate uptake by plants call for further
investigation
1.3.8.6 Effect of chelating agents on the uptake of Cr(III) and Cr (VI) by plants
Chelating agents such as EDTA (ethylenediaminetetra-acetic acid) and citric
acid are commonly used to enhance the uptake of cations of heavy metals and
radionuclides by plants [139, 140]. In general, the presence of organic acids such as
citric acid and oxalic acid may enhance the translocation of chromium (III) from roots
of plants to shoots. Chromium (III), as a heavy metal cation can be affected by
chelating agents but few studies were carried out on the uptake of chromium (VI)
using chelating agents [141]. In the following text the effect of chelators on the uptake
of chromium is reviewed.
Hydroponic systems were used to investigate the uptake and translocation of
chromium (III) by tomato plants in the presence of organic acid such as citric and
oxalic. Chromium accumulation increased significantly in various tissues of the plant
as organic acids were increased [142].
EDTA and citric acid were investigated to enhance the uptake of Cr(III) and
Ni(II) by Datura innoxia . An industrial soil contaminated mainly by Cr and Ni was
57
used. It was observed that citric acid increased the uptake of Cr by the plants and
enhanced the translocation factors of Cr between 2 and 3.5 fold relative to the control
samples [143].
The effect of oxalic acid, citric acid, and EDTA as chelating agents on
phytoextraction of chromium and nickel by Brassica juncea was investigated.
Experiments were carried out using soil containing 3100 mg/kg of Cr(III) and 3400
mg/kg of Ni(II) irrigated by solutions of 0.05 and 0.10 mmol/kg dry soil of each
chelating agent. As a result EDTA was an efficient chelator in increasing the uptake of
Cr and Ni from soil. Significant reduction of plant shoot biomass was observed in the
presence of EDTA. The translocation factor (TF) for chromium did not exceed the
value of 1 for any chelator or control experiment. Only citric acid enhanced TF from
0.80 in control experiment to 0.95 [140].
The effect of EDTA on the uptake and translocation of Cr(III) by water spinach
(Ipomonea aquatic) was investigated. Chromium (III) was introduced in three levels of
concentration as CrCl3 in a hydroponic system at pH 6.0. It was found that EDTA
significantly enhanced the uptake of chromium by roots but the translocation to shoots
decreased at the same conditions. The authors of this study explained these
observations by the formation of a Cr-EDTA complex which may enhance the transfer
of Cr3+ to the root cells while the same complex retarded the translocation from shoots
to roots [144].
The effects of EDTA on uptake and translocation of Cr(VI) and Cr(III) by two
types of willow plants (hybrid and weeping) were investigated [141]. Hydroponic
58
solutions were spiked with either potassium chromate or chromium chloride at
temperature of 24.0 ± 1°C. The two types of willow tend to uptake Cr(III) by 3 fold
more than Cr(VI). Limited or negligible effects on the uptake and translocation of both
Cr (III) and Cr (VI) by hybrid willow were observed in the presence of EDTA. In
weeping willow, results showed that EDTA did not increase the uptake of Cr (VI) but
the translocation of Cr(VI) in the presence of EDTA was possible. The researchers of
this study claimed that the limited uptake of Cr(III) in the presence of EDTA may be
explained due to the complexation reaction between Cr(III) and EDTA which may take
place in the hydroponic solution keeping chromium in the hydroponic system [141].
The effect of organic acids such as citric and oxalic and some amino acids on
the uptake and translocation of Cr(III) by tomato plants (Lycopersicum esculentum)
was investigated [145]. The plants were grown in pots of sand and soil. Significant
increases in Cr(III) accumulation in the treated plants were observed in the presence of
organic acids but not with amino acids. The results indicated that Cr(III) may be
chelated by organic acids and this may increase its uptake by roots of plant [145]. The
conflicting conclusions related to the effect of chelating agents on the uptake of
chromium suggest that the understanding of this issue is far from complete.
1.3.9 Re-extraction of chromium from contaminated biomass
One of the challenges that may face the workers in the field of
phytoremediation is the safe discarding or reuse of the produced biomass. In most
59
cases incineration of this biomass is the most probable but, in other cases, the biomass
can be reused in the field of the production of bio-fuel.
Heavy metal cation mobility and solubility are pH dependent, and at low pH
most of the heavy metal cations are soluble. At high pH range, these metals can be
precipitated
then
removed
from
wastewater
or
any
aqueous
solution.
Electrodeposition, adsorption on some active surfaces, and using the living cells are
further techniques for heavy- metal removal.
The high carbonate content of the soil of UAE which raises the pH of
the soil was used before in the removal of some cations of heavy metals from
wastewater [146]. The pH of UAE soil is 7.9 ± 0.1 and from Figure (1-6) it is observed
that the lowest solubility of Cr (III) is between 8.0 and 9.0 [147]. Therefore the soil of
UAE with its high pH can be used for the precipitation then the removal of Cr(III)
cations.
Electrodeposition, or sometimes as it is called electrowinning, depends mainly
on using direct current to reduce the cations from their solution to deposit on the
cathode. In extracting chromium from electroplating sludge, HCl was used to acidify
then mobilise Cr(III) [148]. Both precipitation of Cr(III) as Cr(OH)3 at high pH and
electrodeposition may be alternative suggested techniques to the common process of
incineration of the dry contaminated biomass after phytoextraction process.
60
Figure (1-5) Solubility of Cr(OH)3 at different levels of pH (modified from[147]).
1.3.10 Gaps in the previous work
To summarise the previous work reported above the following gaps were
found:

For
reasons
of
designing
controllable
experiments
many
previous
investigations were carried out using hydroponic systems. So it is logical to
conclude that the discovered accumulators in these investigations are
appropriate for the phytoremediation of heavy metals from wastewater
(rhizofiltration). In some cases, researchers generalised their discovered
accumulators for Cr(VI) regardless of the conditions of cultivation (in soil,
water or agar) while these plants should be tested under real soil conditions
before generalization.
61

In some cases researchers used neither soil nor hydroponic systems in their
investigations but agar-based nutrient medium and finally they introduced the
plant as a promising accumulator neglecting the effects of many factors related
the environment of growing. Others used very small concentrations of
chromium Cr(VI) (close to the tolerated amount for plant) to study the uptake
which cannot be considered as real test for these plants.

The discouraging uptake of Cr(VI) by the common accumulators of cations
such as willow and Indian mustard calls for more investigations in the field of
looking for other efficient Cr(VI) accumulators.

When calculating the concentration of the pollutant in the plant tissue, some
researchers regarded the weight of ash of plant not the dry weight. This
reduction of weight from dry weight to ash enhanced the calculated uptake 40
fold. When corrected, it can be concluded that the plant has limited
accumulation of chromium.

The contrast between chromium concentration in the contaminated site and the
experimental conditions, For example, to use small concentrations in the
experimental work while the real concentration of the pollutant in the
contaminated soil is very high, so phytoremediation technique is not the best
choice of treatment. When such studies recommend plant accumulators, these
accumulators are mostly unsuccessful when tested in the real contaminated site.
62

In many previous studies, the researchers used contaminated soils or
wastewaters which contain a mixture of Cr(VI) and Cr(III) (mostly from
industrial effluents) and finally they introduced the discovered plant
accumulators as chromium accumulator ( in general). Therefore they did not
use well- identified species of chromium with known concentration to claim
that this accumulator is suitable for either Cr(VI) or Cr(III) phytoextraction.

Some other researchers did not take into consideration the effect of pH on the
speciation of Cr(VI). When they were investigating the competition of sulfate
with chromate they used solutions of Cr(VI) with pH of 6.0 or below, and at
this pH, Cr(VI) is available as dichromate not chromate.

The effect of accompanying cations on the uptake of chromate or dichromate
by accumulators (not crops plants) has not been investigated. And the effect of
the competitive nutrient anions such as sulfate, nitrate, or phosphate on the
uptake of Cr(VI) by accumulator plants needs further investigation.

The relation between chromium (VI) speciation and its uptake by plants was
not investigated regarding the interchange between chromate and dichromate in
soil at different pH values of soil.

The effect of organic content of soils with high pH such as Emirates soil on the
uptake of Cr(VI) by accumulator plants has not hitherto been investigated.
63

Related to the use of chelating agents to enhance the uptake of chromium; only
Cr(III) was chelated but not Cr(VI). This is due to the fact that chelating agents
do chelate the cations of heavy metals as central ions but not their anionic
forms like chromate. Very few investigations considered the effect of chelating
agents on the translocation of Cr(III) originating from the reduction of Cr(VI)
by plants.

Antioxidants that may reduce and detoxify Cr(VI) to Cr(III) and the natural
ligands that may chelate it are not well identified in the scientific literature and
need further investigation.
1.4 Scope of the present work
In the present study the possibility of implementing the phytoextraction
technique using native plants of UAE is investigated. To achieve this objective the
following questions are addressed:
1- What are the most problematic heavy metal(s) in the soil of the UAE?
2- What are the desert plants that may be promising hyperaccumulators for the
problematic heavy metals of the UAE soil?
3- Are the previous investigated plants -which grow in similar conditions like
Texas desert - such as Prosopis species suitable for the phytoextraction of
some problematic heavy metal(s) in the soil of UAE?
64
4- What is the effect of Cr(VI) concentration in the soil on the uptake of this
pollutant by Portulaca oleracea as a potential accumulator for Cr(VI)?
5- What is the most dominant species of chromium that exists inside Portulaca
oleracea tissue?
6- What is the effect of pH of soil on the uptake of Cr(VI) by Portulaca oleracea ?
7- What is the effect of organic content in soil on the uptake of Cr(VI) by
Portulaca oleracea ?
8- What are the effects of nutrient anions such as nitrate, sulfate, and phosphate
on the uptake of Cr(VI)
9- What is the effect of sulfate concentration in soil on the uptake of chromate by
Portulaca oleracea ?
10- What are the effects of accompanying cations such as sodium, potassium, and
ammonium on the uptake of Cr(VI) by Portulaca oleracea ?
11- What are the effects of chelating agents such as EDTA and citric acid on the
uptake of Cr(III) and Cr(VI) by Portulaca oleracea plant?
12- What are the optimum conditions that would maximise the uptake of Cr(VI) by
Portulaca oleracea ?
65
13- What is the effect of Cr(VI) in soil on the concentration of ascorbic acid and
glutathione as antioxidants for this pollutant inside the plant tissue?
14- What are the expected ligands to chelate Cr(III)) from roots to shoots of P.
oleracea ?
15- What is the efficiency of filtration using Emirates sand and electrodeposition as
alternative suggested techniques for the treatment of polluted plants other than
incineration?
66
CHAPTER 2
EXPERIMENTAL AND
METHODOLOGY
2.1 Chemicals and reagents
Table (2-1) Chemicals, purity and suppliers.
Material
Supplier
Standard solutions (1000 ppm) of Cd, Co, Cr, Cu,
Fe, Mn, Ni, Pb, Zn and Na, K, Ca and Mg.
Hydrochloric acid (Conc ≥37%, trace analysis grade)
Sodium gluconate (≥ 99.0%)
Fluka Chemicals,
Gillingham, UK.
Sodium chromate, potassium chromate, ammonium
chromate, potassium dichromate, sodium nitrate,
Panreac Química S.A.U,
Sharjah, UAE
sodium sulfate, sodium phosphate, sodium
carbonate, citric acid and EDTA
(All analytical reagent grade)
Nitric acid (ACS Reagent ≥ 90.0%), ascorbic acid
(reagent grade), dehydroascorbic acid, L-glutathione
reduced (>98%) and L-glutathione oxidised (>98%),
acetonitrile (HPLC grade), formic acid (HPLC
grade), n-butanol (HPLC grade)
Sigma-Aldrich,
Gillingham, UK
Phytochelatin 3
Cambridge Bioscience,
Cambridge, UK
Sodium tetraborate decahydrate (AR)
Fisher Chemicals,
Loughborough,
Silica sand, General purpose
Dubai Sand Purification Co.
Jebel Ali, Dubai
Potting soil (70% organic content)
Blumen Erde, Carrefour,
Ajman, UAE
67
2.2 Instruments and equipment
ICP-OES, Sequential Liberty AX (Varian, Victoria, Australia)
Equipped with SPS3 autosampler and used for the measuring heavy metal
concentration in soil and plant with the manufacturer recommended conditions.
ICP-OES, iCAP 6300 (Thermo Scientific, Loughborough, UK)
The coolant flow is fixed at 12 L/min and the nebulizer gas is computer controlled
from 0 - 1.5 L/min with increments of 0.1 L/min.
The procedure of analysis using ICP-OES is as follows [149]:
(i)
Multi-element standard solutions (0.1, 1, 10, 50, 100 mg/L) containing the
heavy metals Cd, Cu, Co, Cr , Mn ,Ni, Fe, Pb, Zn were prepared from 1000
ppm standard solutions by sequential dilution.
(ii)
The wavelengths of the elements were directly selected by the software. Table
(2-5) shows these wavelengths and the detection limit of each element.
Table (2-2) The Characteristic wavelengths of metal cations determined
using ICP-OES.
Element
Line (nm)
Detection limit (ppm)
Cadmium (Cd)
214.439
1.5 x 10-3
Copper (Cu)
324.754
2.0 x 10-3
Cobalt (Co)
228.615
5.0 x 10-3
Chromium (Cr)
267.716
4.0 x 10-3
Manganese (Mn)
257.610
3.0 x 10-4
Nickel (Ni)
231.604
5.5 x 10-3
Iron (Fe)
238.204
1.5 x 10-3
Lead (Pb)
220.353
1.4 x 10-3
Zinc (Zn)
206.200
9.0 x 10-4
68
(iii)
The blank solution was prepared by adding 2 mL of 1: 1 (v/v) HNO3 to 10 mL
of 1:1 HCl and then the mixture was diluted by deionised water in 100 mL
volumetric flask.
(iv)
The standard solutions and the blank solution were analysed to calibrate the
instrument before each analysis. The samples were then analysed to determine
the concentrations of the metals (Cd, Cu, Co, Cr, Mn, Ni, Fe, Pb, and Zn).
UV- Visible spectrometer, HI 93723 (Hanna Instruments, Bedfordshire, UK).
Used to determine hexavalent chromium in plant and soil according to EPA method
(3060A) [150]: The extracted chromium (VI) was reacted with 1, 5-diphenylcarbazide
in the presence of sulfuric acid and analysed using UV- spectrometry at the
wavelength of 540 nm.
Chromium (VI) was extracted from soil and plant samples according to the following
procedure [150]:
(i)
The temperature of the hot plate was adjusted so as not to exceed 95 °C, then
1.00g of dried soil or ground plant was placed into a clean and labelled 250 mL
digestion vessel.
(ii)
Fifty mL ± 1 mL of digestion solution (0.5 M NaOH + 0.28 M Na2CO3) were
added to each sample using a graduated cylinder, then 400 mg of MgCl 2,
followed by 0.5 mL of 1.0M phosphate buffer.
69
(iii)
The samples were stirred continuously (unheated) for five minutes using
magnetic stirrer. The samples were heated at 90-95 °C for 60 minutes with
continuous stirring then gradually cooled to room temperature.
(iv)
The contents were filtered through a 0.45µm membrane. The inside of the
filter flask and filter pad were rinsed with reagent water and the filtrate and the
rinses were transferred to a clean 250-mL vessel.
(v)
The pH of the filtrate was neutralized to 7.0-7.5 range using concentrated
nitric acid with continuous stirring to eject carbon dioxide from the solution.
The neutralized filtrate was made up to 100 mL (in volumetric flask) using
deionised water.
Ion Chromatography, 6005 Controller with 616 Pump and 717 Plus autosampler
and conductivity detector 432 (Waters Ltd., Hertfordshire, UK)
Used for the determination of sulfate and other anions in plant and soil at the following
conditions:
IC-Pak Anion HR 6.4X 75 mm column was used for anions. The number of the
efficiency plates of column was 2500 which is recommended by manufacturer for
major anions. The flow rate was controlled to be 1.0 mL/min. and running time was 16
minutes for each run.
70
HPLC Agilent 1100 – diode array detector with autosampler.
Used for the determination of the phytochelatin 3 and glutathione in fresh plant tissues
with the following conditions:
The flow rate was adjusted to be 1.0 mL/minute and the column temperature was 30ºC.
Twenty µL from either standards or samples were injected automatically into 250 x 4.6
mm Prodigy ODS (octadecyl 3) column. Absorption wavelength of detector was
adjusted to 214 nm and the period of running for each sample was 15 minutes.
HPLC-MS, Ultra fast liquid chromatography (UFLC) XB (Shimadzu, Milton
Keynes, UK) with Time of Flight Mass Spectrometer Micro TOFQ (Bruker
Daltonics, Coventry, UK) with Electrospray Ionisation ESI
Used for the determination of ascorbic acid, dehydroascorbic acid, reduced and
oxidised glutathione in fresh plant tissues at the following conditions:
The analytical column was Zorbax SB- C18, 5 µm 4.6 x 150 mm from Agilent.
Column temperature was 20 ºC and the flow rate was 1.0 ml/min. The mass
spectrometer was operated with endplate and spray tip potentials of 2.8 and 3.3 kV,
respectively; in negative ion mode. Nitrogen (drying gas) pressure was kept at 30 psi.
Spectra were acquired in the mass/charge ratio (m/z) range of 50- 3000.
Microwave Oven, QLAB 6000 (Questron Technologies Corp, Ontario, Canada)
Used for the digestion of plant and soil using the following procedure:
71
(i)
A volume of 10 mL of 50% (v/v) nitric acid was added to 0.5 g of each dry,
ground and sieved plant sample with 10 samples capacity in each run.
(ii)
Programmed method for the plant tissue digestion was selected with a
temperature of 170 ºC and 15 minutes of running time.
(iii)
After samples became cool, filtration and dilution to 100 mL for each sample was
carried out.
pH Meter, PerpHecT Basic Benchtop Model Orion 320 (Thermo- Orion,
Loughborough, UK)
Used for measuring the pH of soil and irrigation solutions according to the following
procedure:
The value of the pH of the soil was measured according to the EPA method
(9045D) [151] accredited for measuring pH of soil. The procedure of this method
is summarized as follows:
(i)
Three composite 100g samples of soil were placed in three polyethylene
plastic bottles. The electrode was calibrated using buffers at 4 and 7.
(ii)
In a 50-mL beaker 20 mL of deionised water were added to 20 g of each
soil sample. The beakers were covered with watch glass, and the produced
suspension was continuously stirred for 5 min.
(iii)
The soil suspension was allowed to stand for about two hours to allow most
of the sand to settle out of the suspension, and then the solution was
extracted using suction filtration. The electrode was lowered into the beaker
containing the filtrate and immersed deep enough until readings were
steady.
72
2.3 Quality Assurance
2.3.1 Uncertainty
Soil analyses were carried out using standard procedures and are reported with
95% confidence limits. The soil under study is unusual in being predominantly sand
and carbonate with very little humus. There is no certified reference material for soil of
similar composition. In accordance with current convention, metal analyses of soils are
reported as pseudo-totals. However, as a major component of the soils studied is silica
rather than silicates, along with calcium carbonate, the totals are likely to be close to
actual values. Metal ion binding is likely to be dominated by the large excess of Ca2+
ions. Clay minerals are negatively charged and thus binding to anions such as
chromate and dichromate will be very limited.
Plant analyses are reported with 95% confidence limits. Whilst replicate experiments
with plants were carried out, results will be dependent upon growing conditions and
true uncertainties will be greater than quoted statistical limits. This does not detract
from any conclusions reached as these depend upon relative results from experiments
carried out at the same time. Available reference materials are for rye grass and an
aquatic plant, neither of which is similar to the Portulaca genus.
2.3.2 Statistical analysis
Statistical analysis was carried out using SPSS software (Version 15, SPSS UK
Ltd., Woking, Surrey) with Microsoft Excel (Microsoft UK, Reading, Berkshire) being
used for the preparation of the graphs and for some simple statistical operations.
73
Results are reported in tables with 95% confidence intervals
X
t n 1s
n

(where X is the average value, s is the standard deviation, n is the number of replicates
which ranged between 3 and 6 in each experiment.)
In studies which involved replicate sets of experiments with a change in one
variable, analysis of variance (ANOVA) between the means is used to identify if there
are significant differences between means, followed post hoc by a Tukey test to give
the significance (p-value) of each pair of values under different conditions. The values
of p for each experiment are listed in the appendices.
2.3.3 Experiment design
Experiments were designed to reduce uncertainties as follows:

Plants were propagated from the same origin by taking cuttings and then stem
growing in order to control the genetic variability.

Only those plants similar in growth (length and vegetation) were selected for
each investigation.

Plants used in each investigation were randomly distributed and grown under
the same conditions of irrigation, soil components, temperature, light and
nutrients. The only difference was the independent variable (such as sulfate
concentration) which was intended to measure the change in the dependent
variable which usually was chromium uptake.
74

The sufficient amount of water was determined for each size of pot before
irrigation with pollutant (Cr(VI)) in order to ensure that all of added solutions
remain in the soil of the pot.

All of irrigation solutions were prepared from chemicals of analytical grade
and deionised water following the standard scientific procedure in preparing
standard solutions.
2.3.4 Extraction of analytes

Metaphosphoric acid and EDTA were used when ascorbic acid and protein
were extracted from plants; the first can precipitate protein and behaves as
antioxidant to ascorbic acid while EDTA forms chelates with heavy metals and
deactivates the enzymatic activities which may destroy the protein structure.

Plant samples were extracted at low temperature and low levels of light and
were then frozen in liquid nitrogen and kept in a freezer at below -80ºC until
the HPLC analyses.

Fusion with sodium carbonate was used to extract chromium (III) from
chromite since normal acid digestion was not effective.

For heavy metal extraction using acidic digestion on a hot plate, long neck
beakers or conical flasks were used to minimise loss of the digested sample.
The temperature was adjusted not to exceed 90ºC to prevent any effervescence
or vigorous boiling during the digestion. Heating and adding acid continued
75
until a clear transparent solution was observed and there was no NO2 indicating
complete digestion.

When sulfur was determined in plants and soil, closed microwave acidic
digestion were used to prevent any loss by volatility of sulfur oxides.
2.3.5 Instrumental analysis

The environmental analytical methods were standard methods chosen from
EPA, RSC etc.

Standard reagents that used in calibration of analytical instruments were
purchased with the purity recommended.

Standards were freshly prepared just before each analysis and took into account
the required conditions especially when preparing the standards of sulfur
containing proteins or ascorbic acid which require low temperature and low
levels of light which necessitated prior cooling.

Conditions for instrument (e.g. UV-visible, ICP-OES, HPLC) operation
followed the recommendation of manufacturers regarding flow rates of gases,
choosing the determinate wavelength, separation columns, pH of solutions,
purity of samplers and solutions and the manner of sample introduction.

Standard addition was used to for calibration of the above instruments, taking
in account that the curve should include the analyte concentration. Either
76
dilution or the preparation of further concentration standards were carried out
to achieve this objective.

Reversed phase conditions with gradient elution were selected in the two
HPLC techniques since the eluents were polar (proteins and ascorbic acid) in
order to get fast and good resolution.

Electrospray ionisation technique was used when determination of sulfur
containing proteins in the plants since this technique reduces the fragmentation
of these proteins and can give real detection to the complete molecule of
protein. In addition, this technique is appropriate and compatible with HPLC
since the eluents can be aspirated in their liquid phase.

Detection systems in both HPLC experiments were MS or diode array. The
first is very sensitive and gives both qualitative and quantitative information
about the eluents while the other gives the opportunity to check the
determinands at more than one wavelength to achieve the best UV absorbance.
77
2.4 Exploring suspected polluted soils
Experiment (1)
Purpose: To find contaminated sites fit for the implementation of phytoextraction as a
technique for heavy metal removal.
Steps
(i)
Composite samples of soil were collected from tillage area of twelve
suspected polluted sites. Most of these sites were located in East Mountains
and east coast areas such as
Kalba, Muzeera, Manama, Masfoot, Seiji,
Bleeda, Dhaid, Bithna, Ajman Desert Masafi, Dadnah, and Ajman
industrial zone. Figure 2-1 shows the sampled sites.
(ii)
Soil samples were dried, ground, sieved, then digested in concentrated
nitric acid and analysed using ICP-OES for the following heavy metals: Co,
Cr, Cu, Fe, Mn, Ni, Pb and Zn. Detailed steps are mentioned in section
2.7.1
(iii)
To determine chromium in black sand in Dadnah and Kalba coasts,
composite soil samples were taken from coasts of Kalba and Dadnah coast
(opposite to Zikt chromite mines).
(iv)
To extract chromium from chromite, samples were dried and then soda-ash
roasted using sodium carbonate to extract chromium as soluble sodium
chromate [152]. Figure 2-1 shows a map of the area of the study and
illustrates the samples locations in this area.
78
Figure (2-1) Map of location of soil sampling
79
Determination of the pseudo-total heavy metals in soil samples
During the investigation of the concentrations of the pseudo-total heavy metals
the dry samples of soils were digested using concentrated nitric acid according to the
following procedures:
Drying of Samples [153-155]
Samples of soil were dried in an oven at 60˚ C for 48 hours, then ground using mortar
and pestle, and then passed though a 12-mesh (approximately 2 mm) screen.
Acidic digestion for determination total heavy metals
The following steps were followed in the digestion process of soil or plant
samples [155]:
(v)
One gram of dried, ground & sieved soil or plant was weighed into a 100 mL
tall-form beaker (rinsed with concentrated HNO3 before using). Nitric acid (30
mL, 1: 1 (v/v), 15 mL water + 15 mL concentrated HNO3) was added and
mixed with the sample.
(vi)
The contents of the beaker were boiled gently on a hotplate until the volume
was reduced to approximately 5 mL; a magnetic stirrer was used for stirring.
(vii)
A further 10 mL of 1: 1 (v/v) HNO3 were added, and then heating was
repeated until a clear transparent solution was obtained. The beaker was then
cooled and the contents were filtered through a Whatman no. 541 filter paper.
The beaker and the filter paper were washed with successive small portions of
0.25 M HNO3.
80
(viii)
The filtrate was made up to 100 mL (in volumetric flask) using deionised
water, and then analysed using ICP-OES to determine the pseudo-total heavy
metals concentrations.
Extraction of chromium from chromite
Since digestion in nitric acid is not efficient in the extraction of chromium from
chromite, a fusion technique (Soda-Ash Roasting method) was used. It depends
theoretically on transforming the insoluble form of chromium in chromite [Cr (III)] to
soluble sodium chromate according to the equation [152, 156]:
2FeCr2O4 + 4Na2CO3 + 3.5O2
4Na2CrO4 + Fe2O3 + 4CO2
(2-1)
Steps
(i)
One gram of dried and sieved soil (or black sand) was weighed in clean
clay crucible, and then mixed thoroughly with 2.5 g of dry (nonhydrated)
sodium carbonate.
(ii)
The mixture was heated for four hours in a furnace at 975 ◦C. The contents
of the crucible were dissolved in nitric acid then transferred to a 50-mL
beaker.
(iii)
The residue was removed by washing with nitric acid and transferred to the
beaker. The contents of the beaker were filtered and transferred to100-mL
volumetric flask. The flask was made up to the mark using deionised water.
The extract was analysed by ICP-OES.
81
Soil analysis of polluted site of Ajman industrial zone
The following analytical methods were used in sampling or analysing the soil
of the polluted site of Ajman industrial zone:
(i)
Five composite samples, each is about 1.0 kg were composed from 11
subsamples covering the site (from each acre, three subsamples were
taken). Samples were taken from depth 0 to 30 cm in the last week of each
month during the year.
(ii)
Acid digestion for five dried soil samples was carried out using 50% nitric
acid. Total chromium, other heavy metals (Fe, Mn, Ni, Co, Cu, and Pb) and
major cations (Na, K, Ca, and Mg) were determined using ICP-OES.
(iii)
In the aqueous extract of the soil, chromium (VI) was determined using UVvisible spectrophotometry. Concentrations of dissolved anions and metal
cations were determined using ion chromatography and ICP-OES
respectively. PHREEQC program was used for the prediction of the
speciation of chromium (VI) in soil using the generated data.
(iv)
Five soil samples of the site, each of 3 g were dissolved in 100 mL of
deionised water, then were analysed for the dissolved major anions (Cl- ,
NO3- , SO4--, and PO43-) and chromate using ion chromatography.
(v)
Total carbonate was determined by adding known volume of concentrated
HCl to 5 grams of washed soil. The addition was with stirring until the
evolution of carbon dioxide ceased. Back titration was carried out for the
excess of HCl using sodium hydroxide.
82
(vi)
Organic matter content of soil was determined using the back titration of the
excess of added dichromate using ferrous ammonium sulfate.
2.5 Screening of local plants for potential heavy metal phytoextraction
activity
Experiment (2)
Purpose: To identify natural accumulators for heavy metals growing in suspected
polluted sites.
Steps:
(i)
Local plants naturally growing within suspected polluted sites were
sampled and analysed in order to recognize natural accumulators within
these sites. Samples of shoots of the following 10 plants: Dactyloctenium
aegyptium, Heliotropium calcareum, Pluchea arabica, Calotropis procera,
Indigofera amblyantha, Asphodelus tenuifolius, Prosopis juliflora, Tamarix
aucheriana, Euphorbia larica, and Cyperus conglomerates were washed,
dried, weighed, ground, digested in concentrated nitric acid and analysed
using ICP-OES for Cd, Co , Cr , Cu , Fe , Pb, Mn , Ni and Zn.
(ii)
Additional samples of naturally growing plants were taken from other
locations of the suspected area of East Coast (Zikt & Dadnah) which has
mining activity of chromium ore (chromite). Further plant samples were
taken from Ajman industrial zone site which contains a metal extrusion
factory. This factory consumes and wastes chromic acid. Samples were
83
analysed to determine the concentration of the heavy metals in the plants of
these areas.
(iii)
Samples of plant species that are naturally growing in both normal clean
and polluted areas (e.g. Prosopis juliflora ) were sampled for comparison.
Detailed analyses were carried out for different parts of Cyperus
conglomerates (Stems, Leaves, Seeds, and Roots of) to identify the
pollutant distribution in each part of the plant.
Experiment (3)
Purpose: To identify accumulator plants for heavy metals from natural and adapted
desert plants.
Steps:
(i)
Six plants were selected as satisfying the requirements of high level of
vegetation and tolerance of soil salinity and semi-arid climate conditions.
These plants were provided by the municipality of Ajman nursery and
were: Portulaca oleracea, Bougainvillea spinosa, Atriplex halimus, Iresine
herbestii, Pennisetum setaceum, and Azadirachta indica .
(ii)
One hundred and twenty six plastic pots of 500-ml volume each were filled
with synthesized soil consisting of 85% Ajman washed soil and 15% of
potting soil which contained 70% organic matter. The total weight of each
pot was 350 ± 30g. Three seedlings of each plant type were grown to get
three replicates of each type. Each pot was irrigated with 70 mL of
deionised water every 72 hours for a period of one month.
84
(iii)
A blank solution was prepared using deionised water and nitric acid to
adjust the pH to 5.5 ± 0.1 for irrigation of control experiments. Pollutant
solutions were prepared using the nitrate salts of Pb2+, Cu2+, Co2+, Ni2+ and
Cr3+. A solution of chromium (VI) was prepared using potassium
dichromate. The pH of solutions was adjusted at the same pH as that of the
blank solution.
(iv)
Three replicates of each one of the six plants in the experimental samples
were irrigated with the synthesized heavy metals solutions. Each pot
received about 700 mL of 50 ppm of one of the above heavy metal
solutions in ten doses (10 x 70 mL) during one month. For each plant three
pots were irrigated by 700 ml of acidified deionised water as control
replicates.
(v)
After the one month period of irrigation, plants were harvested, washed,
dried, weighed, ground, digested in concentrated nitric acid and analysed
using ICP-OES for lead, copper, cobalt, nickel and total chromium.
Experiment (4)
Purpose: To investigate the potential of typical desert plants including Prosopis
species as suggested accumulators for lead and chromium (VI) from soil of UAE.
Steps:
(i)
Two types of mesquite (Prosopis cineraria & Prosopis juliflora ) were
propagated using stem cuttings.
85
(ii)
Twenty pots were prepared by mixing 85% washed soil from Ajman (Al-Jurf
area) and 15% potting soil (70% of its composition is organic matter). The
total weight of each pot was about 3000 ±100 gram. Ten replicates of each
plant were prepared by growing 3 seedlings from each plant in each pot.
(iii)
Plants were irrigated by deionised water for three months where the plants
became about 30 centimetres in height. Nine successful pots from each plant
were chosen and divided into three groups. The first three were irrigated by
deionised water acidified with nitric acid to pH 5.5 ± 0.1 to match the pH of
the other heavy metal nitrate solutions. The second group was irrigated by 100
ppm Pb(II) as lead nitrate, and
the third one by 100 ppm of Cr(VI) as
potassium dichromate (pH also was 5.5± 0.1 for each). Period of irrigation was
30 days for each group.
(iv)
For 30 days each pot was irrigated with 7500 mL of either blank (acidified
water as control), or Pb(II) or Cr(VI) (each dose = 500 mL of 100 ppm
solution). The plants were harvested, rinsed, dried, weighed, ground, digested
in concentrated nitric acid and analysed using ICP-OES for lead and
chromium.
Determination of total heavy metals in plants
Samples of plants were put in Petri dishes, dried in an oven at 65 ˚C for 48 hours, then
ground using mortar and pestle and then sieved and digested in 50% v/v nitric acid as follows:
86
(i) One gram of dried, ground and sieved plant was weighed into a 100 mL tall-
form beaker (rinsed with concentrated HNO3 before using). Nitric acid (30
mL, 1: 1 (v/v), 15 mL water + 15 mL concentrated HNO3) was added and
mixed with the sample.
(ii) The contents of the beaker were boiled gently on a hotplate until the volume
was reduced to approximately 5 mL; a magnetic stirrer was used for
stirring.
(iii) Further 10 mL of 1: 1 (v/v) HNO3 were added, then heating was repeated until
a clear transparent solution was obtained. The beaker was then cooled and
the contents were filtered through a Whatman no. 541 filter paper. The
beaker and the filter paper were washed with successive small portions of
0.25 M HNO3.
(iv) The filtrate was made up to 100 mL (in volumetric flask) using deionised
water, and then analysed using ICP-OES to determine the total heavy
metals concentrations.
2.6 Factors that may affect the uptake of Cr(VI) by Portulaca oleracea
The following experimental design aims to investigate the factors that may
affect the uptake of Cr(VI) by P. oleracea in order to find out the best conditions that
may maximise the uptake of Cr(VI) by this accumulator plant. Concentrations of
87
Cr(VI) in soil, pH and organic content of soil, nutrient anions of soil, accompanying
cations, and chelating agents are investigated.
2.6.1 Investigation of the effect of concentration of chromium (VI) on its
uptake by Portulaca oleracea
Experiment (5)
Purpose: To investigate the effect of concentration of Cr(VI) in soil on the uptake of
this pollutant by Portulaca oleracea .
Steps:
(i)
Forty pots of 85% (v/v) of normal clean soil from Ajman desert in the
United Arab Emirates and 15% (v/v) of potting soil (contains 70% organic
matter) were prepared. The total mass of soil in each pot was 1500 ±100 g.
(ii)
In each pot 5 stems of Portulaca oleracea were propagated by cuttings and
irrigated by deionised water.
(iii)
Using a stock solution of 10,000 ppm of chromium (VI) (as Na2CrO4) and
deionised water, solutions with the following concentrations were prepared:
0, 50, 100, 150, 200, 250, 300, 350, and 400 ppm of Cr(VI). The volume of
each solution was 5 litres and the pH of each solution was adjusted to 8.0 ±
0.1.
(iv)
Once there was considerable vegetation in each pot (usually 60 days of
growing) 27 pots were chosen according to the best vegetation. Pots were
irrigated by each of the nine concentrations of Cr(VI) in triplicate. After 10
88
doses of irrigation by pollutant solutions each dose equals 150 mL, the
plants were harvested, washed by deionised water and divided into; leaves,
stems, and roots.
(v)
Samples of plants were dried in an oven at 65 °C for 48 hours, then
weighed and ground using mortar and pestle. The samples were digested in
two different ways: nitric acid digestion to determine the total chromium
and alkaline digestion to determine the Cr(VI) in each sample. The detailed
steps of each digestion are described in sections 2.7.4 and 2.7.5 of this
chapter.
(vi)
Composite soil samples were taken from each pot, dried, sieved, digested
and three replicates from each sample were analysed for chromium (VI)
and total chromium.
2.6.2 Effect of pH of soil on the uptake of chromium (VI) by Portulaca
oleracea
Experiment (6)
Purpose: To determine the most appropriate pH of soil which maximises the uptake of
Cr (VI) by Portulaca oleracea .
Steps:
(i)
Six groups of pots (each consisting of twelve pots) of different pH soil
values were prepared. Table (2-1) shows the composition of each group.
89
(ii)
Values of pH of soil were varied and set at 6.0, 7.0, 7.3, 7.6, 8.0, 9.0 ± 0.1.
The total weight of each pot was 1200 ±100g. Buffer solutions were not
used in order not to add anions or cations which may alter the uptake of
Cr(VI). During the experiment periodic check of soil pH was carried out in
order to maintain its constancy.
(iii)
Four Seedlings of Portulaca oleracea were grown in each pot and were
irrigated by deionised water for three weeks. The temperature ranged from
25ºC at night to 35ºC by day.
(iv)
Forty five litres of 200 ppm chromium (VI) were prepared by diluting
10,000 ppm of Cr(VI) as sodium chromate solution which was used as
irrigation solution. The thirty litres were divided into six solutions with pH
range 6.0, 7.0, 7.3, 7.6, 8.0, and 9.0 matching the pH values of each type of
soil (HCl and CaO were used in adjusting the pH of irrigation solutions).
(v)
When considerable vegetation and rooting growth were observed at each
level of pH, the group of twelve was divided into two six pots groups. The
first six were irrigated with deionised water for control and the other six
were irrigated with 1200 mL of 200 ppm Cr(VI) at six doses over 12 days
(note that each soil was irrigated with Cr(VI) solution of the same pH).
(vi)
Each plant was harvested, washed, divided into roots and shoots, and dried
at 65◦C for 48 hours, then weighed and ground using mortar and pestle.
90
Sieved and ground samples of plant and soil were digested using 50%
HNO3, then analysed using ICP-OES for total chromium.
(vii)
Composite soil samples from each pot were collected, dried and analysed
for total chromium.
Table (2-3) Soil composition at different values of pH.
pH of
soil
Soil Composition
6.0 ± 0.1
Pure silica + 10% potting
soil
7.0 ± 0.1
85 % Pure silica+5 % sand of Ajman(contains 42 % CaCO3) + 10%
potting soil
7.3 ± 0.1
80% Pure silica+10 % sand of Ajman(contains 42 % CaCO3) + 10%
potting soil
7.6 ± 0.1
75% Pure silica+15 % sand of Ajman(contains 42 % CaCO3) + 10%
potting soil
8.0 ± 0.1
90% sand of Ajman (contains 42%CaCO3) + 10% potting soil
9.0 ± 0.1
90% sand of Ajman (contains 42%CaCO3) + 10% potting soil+ > 0.1 %
CaO
2.6.3 Effect of organic content of soil on the uptake of chromium (VI) by
Portulaca oleracea
Experiment (7)
Purpose: To investigate the effect of organic content of soil on the uptake of Cr(VI)
by P. oleracea .
Steps:
(i)
Three types of soil were prepared. Table 2-2 shows the components of each
type and the organic matter content.
91
Table (2-4) Organic matter in the soils and the components of each type
No
Components of soil
% organic
content
1
50% potting soil(wt/wt) + 50% Clean soil of Ajman
35% ± 0.5%
2
25% potting soil(wt/wt) + 75% Clean soil of Ajman
17.5% ± 0.5%
3
100% Clean soil of Ajman
0.42% ± 0.02%
(ii)
The normal clean soil from Ajman, which has no detectable chromium (VI)
content, was used either pure or mixed with the potting soil (Blumen Erde –
Germany -of total organic content of 70%).
(iii)
The organic content (%) in the three types of soil was determined by back
titration of the excess of potassium dichromate using ferrous ammonium
sulfate. The pH of the three types of soil was measured and was in the same
range (7.9 ± 0.1) because of the high content of carbonate in the three
types.
(iv)
From each type of soil 10 pots of 2 kilograms were prepared. Four
seedlings of Portulaca oleracea were grown in each pot. Equal quantities
of deionised water were used to irrigate the pots for four weeks until
considerable vegetation and rooting were achieved.
(v)
Fifteen litres of 200 ppm of Cr(VI) as sodium chromate solution were
prepared. Each pot was irrigated with 1.6 litre of chromate solution over a
period of ten days (8 doses, each 200 mL). Another 15 pots (5 from each
92
type of soil) were irrigated with the same quantity of deionised water as
control groups.
(vi)
The plants were harvested, washed by deionised water, dried at 65º C for
48 hours, weighed, ground using mortar and pestle then sieved. Soil
samples were taken from each pot and dried in the same oven at the same
temperature.
(vii)
Dried samples of about 1.0 g of shoots and 0.4 g of roots were digested
using 50% HNO3. Total chromium in shoots, roots and soil was determined
using ICP-OES.
(viii) Chromium (VI) in soil was determined using UV-Visible spectrometry.
Determination of organic content of soil
The total organic matter of soil was determined as reported in [155] with some
modifications. The procedures of this method are summarised as follows:
(i)
An amount of 0.5g of air-dried and sieved soil was weighed and placed in
conical flask. A volume of 10 mL of 0.083 M K2Cr2O7 standard solution
was added and swirled to be mixed with the sample.
(ii)
A volume of 15 mL of concentrated H2SO4 was added carefully and dropwise with gentle swirling to mix and to get rid of the generated heat. The
conical flask was connected to the condenser, then cool water was turned
on. The open end of the condenser was covered with a small beaker, then
the apparatus was fixed on hot plate for 1 hour.
93
(iii)
After cooling, the condenser was rinsed down with deionised water and the
water was collected in the flask. The condenser was disconnected from the
flask, then 100 mL of deionised water were added. Five drops of ferroin
indicator
[FeSO4.7H2O
and
1,
10-phenanthroline
monohydrate
(C12H8N2.H2O) in water] were added.
(iv)
The mixture was titrated with ferrous ammonium sulfate. After the colour
changed from blue-green to violet-red indicating to the end point, a blank
solution (without the soil) was titrated in the same way.
(v)
The organic carbon (mg/g), organic carbon (%) and organic matter (%) in
soil were calculated from the following equations:
Orga nic Ca rbon (mg / g ) 
18  C  V  (1  V1 / V2 )
M
Where:
C is the molar concentration of the K2Cr 2O7 solution (0.083M), while V is
the added volume of that solution (10 mL). V1 is the volume of ferrous
ammonium sulfate used up in the sample titration (mL), V2 is the volume of
the same titrant used up in the titration of blank (mL), M is the sample
weight (g).
The organic carbon in % was calculated as:
Organic Carbon (%) 
(vi)
Organic Carbon (mg / g )
10
Carbon content represents 58% of the soil organic matter [155], therefore
the organic matter (%) was calculated according to the following relation :
Orga nic Ma tter (%)  1 / 0.58  Orga nic
94
Ca rbon(%)
2.6.4 Effect of nutrient anions on the uptake of chromium (VI) by
Portulaca oleracea
Experiment (8)
Purpose: Investigation of the effect of some nutrient anions such as nitrate,
sulfate and phosphate on the uptake of Cr(VI) by Portulaca oleracea .
Steps:
(i)
Forty identical pots were prepared; each containing 1300 ±100 g of soil
with 15% as potting soil (contains 70% as organic matter). The other
component was normal sandy soil of Ajman area of pH of 7.9 ± 0.1.
(ii)
Three Seedlings of P. oleracea , originally propagated by cuttings, were
grown in each pot. After one month of growing and irrigation with
deionised water, twenty five pots (5 groups of five replicates) were labelled
and irrigated with one of the following solutions:
1- 1600 mL of 100 ppm of Cr(VI) as Na2CrO4 (for the control experiment).
2- 1600 mL of 100 ppm of Cr(VI) as Na2CrO4 + 0.02M of NaNO3.
3- 1600 mL of 100 ppm of Cr(VI) as Na2CrO4+ 0.02M of Na2SO4.
4- 1600 mL of 100 ppm of Cr(VI) as Na2CrO4+ 0.02M of Na3PO4.
5- 1600 mL of deionised water.
(iii)
The five groups of 5 replicates each received 8 doses of one of the previous
five irrigation solutions (200 mL for each dose) through a period of 24
95
days. Temperature was in the range of 25 ± 3◦C by day and 20 ± 3 ◦C at
night.
(iv)
Three other groups (5 pots each) were irrigated with the same quantity
(0.02M, and 1600 mL) of nitrate, sulfate or phosphate only as control
groups.
(v)
After 24 days of irrigation the plants were pulled out of the soil using water
stream to remove the wedged soil among the roots. The plants were rinsed
with deionised water and the length of the roots was measured for each
plant as an indicator of the growth of the plant. The plants were divided
into leaves, stems, and roots. Samples of plant were dried in an oven at 65
°C for 48 hours, weighed, ground using mortar and pestle, sieved, digested
in 50% nitric acid, then analysed using ICP-OES to determine the total
chromium in both shoots and roots.
(vi)
Before harvesting, composite soil samples were taken from each pot. Each
sample was dried at 65 °C for 48 hours, sieved, digested in 50% nitric acid,
then analysed using ICP-OES to determine chromium in soil.
2.6.5 Effect of sulfate on the uptake of chromate by Portulaca oleracea.
The results of the previous investigation (section 2.6.4), especially those of
sulfate, called for further investigation. Therefore, detailed experiments of the effect of
sulfate ion in soil on the uptake of chromate by Portulaca oleracea were carried out.
Two concentrations of Cr(VI) were used, the first is 200 mg/kg of dry soil matching
the concentration of pollutant in soil at which the best chromium removal was
96
achieved. The second concentration of Cr(VI) in soil was 100 mg/kg (half of the first
one) matching the concentration of Cr(VI) in the contaminated site of Ajman. The
chromium: sulfur ratio stayed constant in the two experiments. Detailed steps of both
experiments are reported below in Experiments 9 and 10.
Experiment (9)
Steps:
(i)
Thirty identical pots were prepared, each one containing 1500 ±100 g of
synthetic soil consisting of 15% v/v potting soil and 85% of normal sand
of the emirate of Ajman.
(ii) Chemically pure sodium chromate and sodium sulfate from Panreac were
used to prepare 1000 ppm stock solutions of both hexavalent chromium
as chromate and sulphur as sulfate which were used in the preparation of
the irrigation solutions.
(iii) When considerable vegetation and rooting growth were observed each
pot was irrigated with one of the solutions in Table (2- 3) during a period
of two weeks at six doses.
97
Table (2- 5) Concentrations of components of irrigation solutions in the presence of
200 ppm of Cr(VI).
Components and
Concentration
Number
of Pots
Volume of each
dose
Final Volume of
each pot
Deionised water
(Control)
5
250 mL
1500 mL
200 ppm Cr (VI) as
Na2CrO4
5
250 mL
1500 mL
200 ppm Cr (VI) as
Na2CrO4 + 300 ppm
sulfate as Na2SO4
5
250 mL
1500 mL
200 ppm Cr (VI) as
Na2CrO4 + 600 ppm
sulfate as Na2SO4
5
250 mL
1500 mL
200 ppm Cr (VI) as
Na2CrO4 + 1200 ppm
sulfate as Na2SO4
5
250 mL
1500 mL
200 ppm Cr (VI) as
Na2CrO4 + 1800 ppm
sulfate as Na2SO4
5
250 mL
1500 mL
(iv) The plants were harvested, separated into roots and shoots, washed, dried,
and then digested using microwave acid digestion. Ion chromatography
was used to determine total sulfur as sulfate, and ICP-OES was used to
determine total chromium in each sample of plant.
98
Experiment (10)
Steps:
(i)
Thirty identical pots were prepared, each one containing 1.2 kg of synthetic
soil consisting of 15% v/v potting soil and 85% of normal shore sand
treated with calcium carbonate to reach the pH of 7.9 ± 0.1.
(ii)
Four seedlings of Portulaca oleracea were germinated in each pot and were
irrigated with deionised water for four weeks. The temperatures were
controlled at 25 ºC at night and at 35ºC at the daytime in an incubator.
(iii)
Chemically pure sodium chromate and sodium sulfate (Panreac Spain) were
used to prepare 1000 ppm stock solutions of both hexavalent chromium as
chromate and sulfur as sulfate, which were used in the preparation of the
irrigation solutions.
(iv)
When considerable vegetation and root growth were observed, each pot
was irrigated with one of the solutions in Table (2- 4) during a period of
two weeks at six doses.
(v)
The plants were harvested, separated into roots and shoots, washed, dried,
then digested using microwave acid digestion. ICP-OES was used to
determine total chromium and total sulphur in each sample of plant.
99
Table( 2- 6) Concentrations of components of irrigation solutions in the presence of
100 ppm of Cr(VI).
Components and
Concentration
Number of
Pots
Volume of
each dose
Final Volume
for each pot
Deionised water (Controlled
Experiments)
5
200 mL
1200 mL
100 ppm Cr (VI) as Na2CrO4
5
200 mL
1200 mL
100 ppm Cr (VI) as Na2CrO4
+ 150 ppm sulfate as Na2SO4
5
200 mL
1200 mL
100 ppm Cr (VI) as Na2CrO4
+ 300 ppm sulfate as Na2SO4
5
200 mL
1200 mL
100 ppm Cr (VI) as Na2CrO4 +
600 ppm sulfate as Na2SO4
5
200 mL
1200 mL
100 ppm Cr (VI) as Na2CrO4
+ 900 ppm sulfate as Na2SO4
5
200 mL
1200 mL
Determination of sulfur as sulfate in plant and soil samples using ion
chromatography
To determine the total sulfur as sulfate in plant and soil samples, an ion
chromatography machine (6005 Controller and 616 Pump from Waters with 717 Plus
autosampler from Waters) was used. Conductivity detector 432 from Waters was used
as detecting system for the eluted ions. In the following steps, a brief description of the
method is given [157]:
(i)
Four standards of sulfur as sulfate of the concentrations 1.0, 10, 50, and 100
ppm were prepared by dilution of 1000 ppm of sulfate stock solution.
100
(ii)
IC-Pak Anion HR 6.4X 75 mm column was used for anions. The number of
the efficiency plates of column was 2500 and it was recommended for
sulfate anions. Borate /Gluconate mobile phase was used with flow rate of
1.0 mL/min. The running time was 16 minutes for each run.
(iii)
The microwave digested samples of both shoots and roots were diluted at 1:
20 dilution factor to reduce the effect of the acidic medium of acid
digestion on the stationary phase of column. Sample solutions were filtered,
then analysed using the ion chromatography.
(iv)
Five samples of 3.0 g of each type of soil were suspended in 100mL of
deionised water, then stirred using magnetic stirrer for two hours then
filtered. The available sulfate in soil before and after irrigation was
determined using the same technique and same conditions of analysis.
Borate /Gluconate mobile phase preparation
Five litres of Borate /Gluconate mobile phase were prepared as reported in [158,
159] with some modifications:
(i)
A volume of 100 mL of concentrated borate /gluconate solution was
prepared by dissolving 1.8 g of boric acid, 1.6 g of sodium gluconate and
2.5 g of sodium tetra borate decahydrate in 50 mL of ultra pure water.
(ii)
A volume of 25 mL of glycerine was added to the solution then the mixture
was completed to the mark using ultra pure water.
101
(iii)
Of the previous concentrated borate /gluconate, 100mL solution was added
to a 5 litres volumetric flask, then 100 mL of n-butanol HPLC grade was
added to the solution.
(iv)
A volume of 600 mL of acetonitrile HPLC grade was added, and the flask
was completed to the mark using ultra pure water. The mobile phase was
then filtered through glass fibre membrane.
2.6.6 Effect of accompanying cations on the uptake of Cr(VI) by Portulaca
oleracea
Experiment (11)
Purpose: Investigation of the effect of cations of sodium, potassium and ammonium
as accompanying cations on the uptake of Cr(VI) by Portulaca oleracea.
Steps:
(i)
Twenty identical pots were prepared, each of 1300 ±100 g of soil
containing 15% as potting soil (with 70% of organic matter). The make up
component is normal sandy soil of Ajman area of pH of 7.9 ± 0.1. Three
Seedlings of Portulaca , originally propagated by cuttings were grown in
each pot.
(ii)
After one month of growing and irrigation by deionised water, each pot was
labelled and irrigated with one of the following solutions.
1- 1600 mL of 100 ppm of Cr (VI) as Na2CrO4.
102
2- 1600 mL of 100 ppm of Cr (VI) as K2CrO4.
3- 1600 mL of 100 ppm of Cr (VI) as (NH4)2CrO4.
4- 1600 mL Deionised water (for the control).
(iii)
The four groups (of 5 replicates each) received 8 doses (of 200 mL each) of
one of the previous four irrigation solutions through a period of 24 days.
Temperature was in the range of 25 ± 3◦C by day and 20 ± 3 ◦C at night.
(iv)
After 24 days of irrigation the plants were pulled out of the soil using
water stream to remove the wedged soil among the roots. The plants were
rinsed by deionised water and the length of the roots was measured for each
plant as an indicator of the growth of the plant. The plants were divided
into leaves, stems, and roots.
(v)
Samples of plant were dried in an oven at 65 °C for 48 hours, ground using
mortar and pestle, sieved, digested in 50% nitric acid then analysed using
ICP-OES to determine the total chromium in both shoots and roots. Before
harvesting, composite soil samples were taken from each pot. Each sample
was dried at 65 °C for 48 hours, sieved, digested in 50% nitric acid then
analysed using ICP-OES to determine chromium in soil.
2.6.7 Effect of chelating agents on the uptake of Cr (III) and Cr(VI)
Chelating agents such as EDTA and citric acid may enhance the uptake of
heavy metal cations such as Cr(III). Anionic species such as chromate or dichromate
103
are most unlikely to be chelated in their anionic form but since Cr(VI) can be reduced
to Cr(III) in root cells then translocated to shoots as Cr(III) cations, therefore, it is
interesting to investigate the effect of chelating agents on the uptake of Cr(VI). In the
next two experiments the effect of EDTA and citric acid on the uptake of Cr(III) and
Cr(VI) was investigated.
2.6.7.1 Effect of chelating agents on the uptake of Cr (III)
Experiment (12)
Purpose: To investigate the effect of chelating agents like citric acid and EDTA on the
uptake of Cr (III) and by Portulaca oleracea .
Steps:
(i)
Twelve pots of the same volume, weight and composition were prepared.
Each pot was made to contain 85% of washed sand and 15% of potting soil
(70% of it is organic matter); the total weight of each pot was 500 ± 50g.
(ii)
The pH of soil of each pot was measured and it was 5.5 ± 0.1. Chromium
(III) is soluble and available for plants at this relatively low pH.
(iii)
Three seedlings of Portulaca oleracea were grown in each pot and irrigated
with deionised water for two weeks. The plants were incubated in a special
incubator at 12 hours of light and 35 ◦C; the other 12 hours were controlled
at 25◦C and darkness. These conditions of relatively high temperature were
designed to mimic the hot climate in the Arabian Gulf countries where
Portulaca is a native plant.
104
(iv)
Sets of three pots were irrigated with one of the following solutions: 100
ppm of Cr(III) as chromium (III) nitrate, 100 ppm of Cr(III) as chromium
(III) nitrate + 0.01 M of EDTA, 100 ppm of Cr(III) as chromium (III)
nitrate + 0.01 M of citric acid or deionised water for the control. Each pot
was irrigated with 500 mL of one of the previous solutions as 10 doses (50
mL for each) through a period of 20 days.
(v)
After this period each plant was harvested, washed, divided into roots and
shoots, and dried at 65◦C for 48 hours then, ground using mortar and pestle.
Samples of plant and soil were digested using 50% HNO3 and analysed
using ICP-OES for total chromium.
2.6.7.2 Effect of chelating agents on the uptake of Cr (VI)
Experiment (13)
Purpose: To investigate the effect of chelating agents such as citric acid and EDTA on
the uptake of Cr(VI) by Portulaca oleracea .
Steps:
(i)
Twenty pots of the same volume, weight and composition were prepared. Each
pot was made to contain 85% of washed shore sand and 15 % of potting soil
(70% of it is organic matter); the total weight of each pot was 1200 ± 100g.
The pH of soil of each pot was measured and it was 7.8 ± 0.1.
(ii)
Three seedlings of Portulaca oleracea were grown in each pot and irrigated by
deionised water for two weeks. The plants were incubated for 12 hours of light
105
at 40 ºC and 12 hours at 25ºC and darkness. These conditions of relatively high
temperature were designed to mimic the climatic conditions of the Arabian
Gulf countries where Portulaca was originally grown.
(iii)
Every five pots (as group of five replicates) were irrigated with one of the
following solutions: 100 ppm of Cr(VI) as sodium dichromate, 100 ppm of
Cr(VI) as sodium dichromate + 0.01 M of EDTA, 100 ppm of Cr(VI) as
sodium dichromate + 0.01 M of citric acid or acidified deionised water for the
control. The pH of the three solutions was adjusted to 5.5 ± 0.1 by dropping
small portions of HNO3 or NaOH.
(iv)
Each pot was irrigated with 1200 mL of one of the above solutions for a period
of 2 weeks, after that each plant was harvested, washed, divided into roots and
shoots , dried at 65◦C for 48 hours then ground using mortar and pestle.
Samples of plant and soil were digested in microwave using 50% HNO3 then
analysed using ICP-OES for chromium.
2.7 Effect of chromium(VI) on the concentration of sulfur containing
proteins and ascorbic acid in P. oleracea .
This part of the investigation is devoted to the understanding of the
biochemistry of chromium in P. oleracea tissues, in particular the postulated reducing
agents that may reduce Cr(VI) to Cr(III) and the postulated ligand that may transport
the complexed chromium(III) from roots to shoots. Glutathione in plants is a reducing
agent and at the same time, it is the essential unit in the building of the natural plant
ligands (phytochelatins). Ascorbic acid is found in P. oleracea and is a likely Cr (VI)
106
reductant. It was thus necessary to use two methods of extraction. The first discussed
in section 2.7.1 was specifically for the extraction of antioxidants (reducing agents)
and the second for the extraction of PC3 phytochelatins in section2.7.2. Since
glutathione is essential in the two processes it was determined in both.
2.7.1 Effect of chromium (VI) on the concentration of ascorbic acid and
glutathione as antioxidants in Portulaca oleracea
Experiment (14)
Purpose: To investigate the effect of Cr(VI) concentration in soil on the concentration
of ascorbic acid and glutathione as antioxidants in Portulaca oleracea tissues.
Steps:
Plants growing:
(i) Pure shore sand was washed and enriched by 15 % as potting soil (contains
70% as organic matter). The pH of the soil was amended to 7.9 ± 0.1 using
calcium carbonate to match the soil of UAE.
(ii) Twelve pots were prepared; each containing 1000 ± 50 g of the above
synthesised soil. Four seedlings of Portulaca oleracea (20 cm in length and
originally propagated by cuttings from the same plant in Ajman municipality
nursery, UAE) were grown in each pot. Seedlings were irrigated with deionised
water and grown in an incubator at 25ºC in light and 35ºC in darkness for three
weeks.
107
(iii) After considerable vegetation was observed, nine successful pots were
selected and divided into three groups of triplicate. The first was irrigated with
50 ppm of chromium (VI) as sodium chromate over a period of two weeks. The
chromate solution was introduced to the plants as 5 doses of 200 mL.
(iv) The second group was irrigated with the same volume and doses but with 100
ppm of chromium (VI). And the third group was irrigated with deionised water
for control.
(v) After two weeks of irrigation the plants were cleaned from soil using cold
water stream, washed with deionised water, divided into shoots and roots.
(vi) The fresh plant tissues were sampled for extraction and the rest of the plant
tissues were dried, weighed ground, digested in nitric acid using microwave
and analysed using ICP-OES for chromium.
Extraction of antioxidants (reduced and oxidised) from plant tissues
The extraction process was carried out according to the method described in
previous studies [160 -161] with some modification as follows:
(i) Fresh plant tissues were weighed (200-300 mg of roots and 500-700 mg of
shoots) then frozen in liquid nitrogen.
(ii) One litre of extraction solution (5% (w/v) metaphosphoric acid (MPA) and
1 mM EDTA in 0.1% formic acid) was prepared using ultra pure water then
was filtered.
108
(iii) The frozen samples were ground using cool mortar and pestle. Then 1.0 mL of
cool extraction solution added to the ground plant tissue accompanied with 1%
(m/v) polyvinyl-polypyrrolidone (PVPP).
(iv) The suspension of ground plant in extraction solution was placed in hard
plastic cryovials with stoppers, and then centrifuged at 15,000g for 20 min at
4 °C.
(v) Supernatants were collected, then residues were suspended with 200 –300 μl
of the same extraction solution and centrifuged again under the same
conditions. The second supernatant obtained was combined with the first and
taken to a final volume of 2 ml with extraction solution. The supernatants were
filtered through cellulose acetate membrane. The extracted samples were
frozen in liquid nitrogen and stored at −80 °C until analysis [160].
HPLC-MS Analysis
(i) Chemicals of standards of glutathione, glutathione oxidised, ascorbic acid and
dehydroascorbic acid were purchased from Sigma Aldrich. Solutions of 50 mL
volume from the 4 standards were prepared using the same extraction solution
used in the above procedures. Concentration of each standard was 1000 ppm
which was diluted to prepare different concentrations used in preparing the
calibration curve for each standard.
(ii) The mobile phase was prepared for reversed phase using two solvents: A
(filtered solution of 0.1% formic acid (HPLC grade) in ultrapure water) and B
(0.1% formic acid in acetonitrile). Gradient elution method was programmed
109
on the machine of ultra fast liquid chromatography, UFLC XB, from
Shimadzu.
(iii)The mobile phase composition was changed on a period of 15 minutes
according to the following percentages of A and B which was described in a
previous study [160]: a linear gradient from 0 to 10% B (0–5 min) was used.
Then, to wash the column, the concentration of B was increased linearly from
10 to 50% from 5 to 6 min, and this solvent composition was maintained for
9 min. Finally, to regenerate the column, the solvent was changed linearly to
0% B for 11 min, and then was maintained at 0% B until 15 minutes, when a
new sample could be injected.
(iv) The analytical column was Zorbax SB- C18, 5 µm 4.6 x 150 mm from Agilent.
Column temperature was 20 ºC and the flow rate was 1.0 ml/min. The detector
was a time of flight mass spectrometer micro TOFQ from Bruker Daltonics
with electrospray ionisation ESI.
(v) Both standards then samples were introduced using the autosampler. From each
sample 20-μl were injected. After 1.8 min. from sample injection the exit flow
from the column was introduced to the ESI interface of the MS (TOF)
apparatus using a T-connector. This precaution was observed to reduce the
effect of metaphosphoric acid MPA on the ionisation process since it is being
eluted in the first 1.5 minutes.
(vi) The mass spectrometer was operated with endplate and spray tip potentials of
2.8 and 3.3 kV, respectively; in negative ion mode. Nitrogen (drying gas)
110
pressure was kept at 30 psi. Spectra were acquired in the mass/charge ratio
(m/z) range of 50- 3000. The highest molecular weight of required analyte was
glutathione oxidised (612.2), but the range of scanning was expanded to 3000
to observe the dimers and polymers of the required analytes.
2.7.2 Effect of chromium(VI) on the formation of PC3 phytochelatins and
glutathione and in Portulaca oleracea .
Experiment (15)
Purpose: To investigate the effect of Cr(VI) concentration in soil on the concentration
of glutathione and PC3 phytochelatins as sulfur containing proteins in Portulaca
oleracea tissues.
Steps:
Plants growing:
Portulaca oleracea was grown and irrigated using Cr(VI) as mentioned in the
previous investigation (experiment 14).
Extraction of phytochelatins and glutathione and HPLC method
Detailed steps of the method are mentioned in Hunaiti et al. [162] and in the
following they are reported briefly with some modifications
(i) Fresh plant samples (1 g of shoots or 0.5 g of roots) were immersed in liquid
nitrogen then ground using a blender. Glutathione and phytochelatins were
extracted using 60% perchloric acid (2 mL per g fresh weight).
(ii) Homogeneous mixtures were vortexed then centrifuged at 13,000g for five
minutes then the supernatents were filtered through cellulose acetate
111
membrane. 100 µL of each sample were transferred to autosampler vials of
Agilent 1100 HPLC system with diode array detector.
(iii) Reversed phase gradient elution conditions were applied using two solvents as
mobile phase (solvents A and B). A consisted of 0.1% trifluoroacetic acid
(TFA) and solvent B was 80% of acetonitrile in 0.1% TFA (v/v). The flow rate
was adjusted to be 1.0 mL/minute and the column temperature was 30ºC.
(iv) Chemically pure glutathione (GSH) and PC3 phytochelatins were purchased
from Sigma Aldrich to prepare the standards. Twenty µL from either standards
or samples were injected automatically into 250 x 4.6 mm Prodigy ODS
(octadecyl 3) column. Absorption wavelength of detector was adjusted to 214
nm where best absorptions for GSH and PC3 were expected according to the
method. The period of running for each sample was 15 minutes.
2.8 Techniques for the treatment of polluted biomass of plants after
their use in phytoextraction
Contaminated plant biomasses are used to be incinerated after their use in the
remediation process. Alternative techniques, rather than incineration, for re-extracting
chromium(III) from the harvested dry P. oleracea
such as acidification,
electrodeposition, and filtration through the sand of emirates, were investigated.
2.8.1 Extraction and determination of chromium in polluted plants
Experiment (16)
Purpose: To extract chromium from dry plant biomass and to determine the efficiency
of this extraction.
112
Steps:
(i)
Fifty four grams of dry ground tissues (mixed shoots and roots) of
Portulaca were mixed thoroughly. This amount is the residue of some pre-
analysed samples which had been irrigated with chromium (VI) solutions.
(ii)
Five samples were taken and each was about 1.0 g. These samples were
digested using 50% HNO3, then analysed using ICP-OES to determine the
total chromium.
(iii)
About 49 g of dry ground plants were divided into three equal samples,
each weighing 16.33 g. Each of the three samples was dissolved in one litre
of deionised water in 1 litre beaker.
(iv)
Concentrated hydrochloric acid was added as droplets to adjust the pH of
the solutions at 5.0 ± 0.1 and 2.0. ± 0.1. The third beaker was left without
any acid addition and its pH was measured to be 6.1 ± 0.1.
(v)
The two beakers of pH 2.0 and 5.0 were stirred using magnetic stirrer and
heated to 80 ºC for two hours. About 30 mL of each solution were filtered
and divided into three samples, then chromium (VI) was measured using
UV-Visible spectrophotometry. Three replicates of each solution were
analysed for total chromium using ICP-OES.
(vi)
The pH of the two solutions (of pH 6.1 and 5.0) were acidified using
concentrated HCl to the pH of 2.0 ± 0.1 then heated to 80 ºC for two hours.
113
2.8.2 Removal of chromium from the dry biomass of P. oleracea
Experiment (17)
Purpose: To remove Cr(III) from the extract using UAE sand and electrodeposition.
Steps:
(i)
An amount of exactly 400 g of sand of Ajman was washed using deionised
water, dried, and then was placed in a cylindrical glass column with
diameter of 5cm and length of 60 cm. This column was open from the top
and fitted with valve from the bottom.
(ii)
The sand was analysed for pH, some heavy metals and total carbonate. The
two litres of the extract solution (pH 2.0) were filtered though plastic tiny
net, then added gradually from the upper inlet of the column and passed
through the sand. The filtrate solution was analysed for pH and total
chromium using ICP-OES.
(iii)
The third litre of extract solution (pH 2) was divided into four equal
volumes and each volume was placed in 400 mL beaker. Two cylindrical
graphite electrodes (15 cm in length and 0.4 radius) were immersed in each
solution then were connected to 9V battery for 12, 24 and 36 hours. After
each period the solution was analysed for pH and total chromium using
ICP-OES.
114
2.9 Sampling of soil
Composite soil samples were taken as follows [163]:
(i)
A systematic sampling grid was planned for the area of sampling and from
each 10 acres area six subsamples were taken (Plastic sampling containers,
500-mL in volume and a steel spade were used. A V-shaped hole six inches
deep was excavated. A 1-inch slice from one side of the hole was taken.
The sides of slice were trimmed, leaving a 1-inch strip on the spade. Then
these strips were transferred to a clean plastic container.)
(ii)
All soil samples were taken from a depth from 0 to 6 inches which is
known as the tillage depth since most of root activities are restricted to this
depth in most plants.
(i)
These subsamples were mixed thoroughly in a plastic container, and about
1 kilogram of this mixture was saved for analysis as a composite soil
sample.
2.10 PHREEQC program
PHREEQC (Version 2) is a computer program available from the U.S.
Geological Survey (USGS, Denver, Colorado, USA) which is designed to perform a
wide variety of aqueous geochemical calculations including the speciation of soluble
ions [164]. This programme has capability to model almost any chemical reaction that
is recognized to influence rain, soil, ground and surface water quality [165].
115
Soluble ions were extracted from soil using deionised water. Dissolved metal
cations were determined using ICP-OES and ion chromatography was used to
determine dissolved anions. Generated data from the program were then used to
predict the actual species of chromium in the soil of Ajman industrial zone.
116
CHAPTER 3
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
3.1 Exploring suspected polluted soils
The main objective of this project is the implementation of phytoextraction to
remediate polluted soil of UAE. Thus, twelve suspected polluted sites in northern
emirates (Figure 3-1) were chosen on the recommendation of the environmental
laboratory of Ajman municipality (personal communication). Some of these sites
contained industrial waste, old landfill or mining activities for chromite like the east
coast area of UAE. Composite soil samples of these sites were analysed for the
following heavy metals: Co, Cr, Cu, Fe, Mn, Ni, Pb and Zn. The results of the analysis
of soil samples of these sites are listed in Table 3-1.
Figure (3-1) The area of the sampled sites in the northern emirates.
117
Table (3-1) Concentration of heavy metals in soil samples of different sites in northern emirates of UAE.
*Conc. mg/kg
Co
Cr
Cu
Fe
Mn
Ni
Pb
Zn
Kalba
20.5 ± 3.3
135 ± 20
15.6 ± 2.1
(1.6 ± 0.1) x104
290 ± 40
590 ± 70
11.1 ± 2.1
46 ± 6
Muzeera
<0.5
110 ± 16
15.2 ± 2.5
(1.5 ± 0.1) x104
380 ± 30
520 ± 60
6.2 ± 1.1
33 ± 5
Manama
18.2 ± 2.4
105 ± 17
9.2 ± 1.8
(1.2 ± 0.1) x104
320 ± 30
420 ± 50
5.50± 0.68
24 ± 4
Masfoot
14.2 ± 2.1
105 ± 20
12.9 ± 1.9
(1.3 ± 0.1) x104
340 ± 40
430 ± 60
3.40± 0.42
40 ± 6
Seiji
10.4 ± 1.8
79 ± 11
14.2 ± 1.5
(1.2 ± 0.1) x104
300 ± 40
340 ± 40
5.00± 0.61
30 ± 4
Bleeda
11.2 ± 1.8
86 ± 13
41.6 ± 5.7
(1.3 ± 0.1) x104
420 ± 50
240 ± 30
10.5 ± 1.8
50 ± 6
Dhaid
12.3 ± 2.0
115 ± 18
12.8 ± 2.1
(1.3 ± 0.1) x104
260 ± 30
460 ± 60
2.20 ± 0.25
20 ± 3
Bithna
24.0 ± 4.3
202 ± 31
19.5 ± 2.9
(1.6 ± 0.2) x104
400 ± 40
680 ± 80
80.2 ± 11.6
48 ± 7
Ajman Desert
1.8 ± 0.3
145 ± 23
118 ± 15
(4.8 ± 0.5) x103
370 ± 40
100 ± 20
21.9 ± 3.3
110 ± 10
Masafi
11.1± 2.0
118 ± 16
10.9 ± 1.7
(1.2 ± 0.1) x104
300 ± 40
410 ± 50
4.4 ± 0.5
28 ± 4
Dadnah
22.5 ± 4.3
155 ± 30
17.6 ± 2.1
(1.9 ± 0.2) x104
320 ± 40
680 ± 80
12.5 ± 1.9
63 ± 9
Ajman Industrial
Zone
1.01±0.03
1300 ± 150
6.7 ± 0.9
(4.7 ± 0.2) x103
160 ± 20
30 ± 5.0
3.4 ± 0.4
90 ± 20
Site
* Concentration is expressed in mg of heavy metal per kg of dry soil (mg/kg) (Samples were analysed in February 2006
for triplicates)
118
It was believed that the level of chromium in black sand of Dadnah and Kalba
is much higher than the value determined in table 3-1 using acidic digestion (155 and
135 mg/kg) because it contains chromite FeCr2O4 as major component. Thus, fusion
with Na2CO3 (Soda-Ash Roasting) was carried out for black sand of Dadnah and
Kalba and the concentration of Cr(III) in soil was found to be 3890 mg/kg and 25000
mg/kg, respectively (Table 3-2). This confirms that it is unavailable to plants under
normal conditions.
Table (3-2) Concentration of total chromium in east coast black sand, Kalba and
Ajman industrial zone.
Concentration of Cr
(mg/kg)
Site
Dadnah Coast
(2.5 ± 0.2) x 104
Kalba Coast
(3.9 ± 0.5) x 103
Ajman Industrial Zone
(1.3 ± 0.2) x103
The dominant heavy metal in the investigated sites is iron which ranged from
4,700 to 19,000 mg/kg. Iron in soil does not represent environmental challenge at this
limit according to U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) which indicated that the median of
Fe in soil is 26,000 mg/kg [44]. Nickel and manganese are relatively high in different
sites (more 300 mg/kg) especially in the sites which include high content of iron
(such as Dadnah, Kalba, Manama, Masfoot, Bithna, Bleeda, and Muzeera), but both
Mn and Ni concentrations are still below the maximum allowed limit according to
USGS which is 7000 mg/kg for Mn and 700 mg/kg for Ni [44].
119
It is observed that the most problematic heavy metal in the main polluted sites
of UAE is chromium. These sites are Dadnah coast, Kalba coast and Industrial Zone of
Ajman. The highest concentration of chromium was found in the black sand of Dadnah
cost which reached 25,000 mg/kg followed by Kalba sand up to 3900 mg/kg.
Chromium (III) in the soil of Kalba and Dadnah is unlikely to be extracted to soil since
chromite is a very stable compound and chromium was extracted from it in laboratory
only using soda ash diffusion at 950 ºC. Therefore, chromium in black sand will not
form a real environmental problem since its content of chromium is unavailable
chromium (III), which is a less harmful form of chromium. According to USGS, in
soils, chromium ranged between 3-300 mg/kg with a median of 54 mg/kg [44]. Except
Ajman industrial zone, chromium in all investigated sites ranged between 79- 202
mg/kg which falls within the range of USGS. Moreover the UAE soil has a pH 7.9 ±
0.1, at that value chromium (III) is mostly insoluble as Cr(OH)3. So if a small amount
of it was extracted, it would not be available to plants at this pH.
The average concentration of total chromium in Ajman industrial zone is 1300
± 150 mg/kg. The risk associated with this quantity of chromium is its high content of
hexavalent chromium (Cr(VI)). This site is a part of the city of Ajman and it is
surrounded with schools and other civil establishments. The concentration of
chromium in this site stays within the limit that some plants can tolerate, so
phytoremediation may be the technique of choice for the remediation of this site.
Detailed investigation for the soil of Ajman industrial zone was carried out. The results
are reported and discussed in the next section.
120
3.1.1 The polluted site of Ajman industrial zone
As a result of surveying twelve suspected sites for heavy metal contamination,
Ajman industrial zone (Figure 3-2) was identified as polluted with chromium to an
extent that calls for immediate remediation. Detailed chemical analyses of the soil of
the site were carried out to measure the anions, cations, carbonate content, organic
matter and pH. (The results are shown in table 3-3). Hexavalent chromium in the soil
of the site was measured from October 2008 to June 2009 and the results are shown in
Table 3-4. PHREEQC software from USGS [165] was used to predict the speciation of
Cr(VI) in the soil extract ( Tables 3-5) and Cr(III) in soil (Table 3-6).
Figure (3-2) Satellite photograph and detailed sketch for the polluted site in Ajman
Industrial Zone
121
Table (3.3) Concentrations of the cations and anions and the pH of soil of the site of
Ajman industrial zone.
Variable
pH
Total Chromium
Chromium (VI)
Total Carbonate
Total Organic Matter
Nitrate
Sulfate
Chloride
Phosphate
Sodium
Potassium
Calcium
Magnesium
Iron
Manganese
Copper
Zinc
Lead
Cobalt
na = not available.
Measured Value
7.9 ± 0.1
1760 ± 120 mg/kg
97.3 ± 14.8 mg/kg
42% wt/wt ± 3.6 %
0. 42 % wt/wt ± 0.02 %
< 0.01 mg/kg
55.3 ± 8.8 mg/kg
1300 ± 100 mg/kg
< 0.01 mg/kg
730 ± 80 mg/kg
500 ± 50 mg/kg
14700 ± 400 mg/kg
6100 ± 300 mg/kg
4700 ± 150 mg/kg
170 ± 20 mg/kg
7.5 ± 1.1 mg/kg
95.3 ± 11.6 mg/kg
3.6 ± 0.4 mg/kg
1.0 ± 0.13 mg/kg
Median in USGS (mg/kg)
na
54
na
na
0.5-100% wt/wt
na
na
na
na
12,000
15,000
24,000
9,000
26,000
550
25
60
19
9.1
Table (3.4) Concentrations of total and hexavalent chromium in the soil of the site
from October 2008 to June 2009.
Month
Total Chromium (mg/kg)
Chromium (VI) (mg/kg)
October 2008
1710 ± 120
97.3 ± 14.8
December 2008
1740 ± 120
65.7 ± 16.4
February 2009
1770 ± 130
52.8 ± 11.5
April 2009
1820 ± 130
68.2 ± 13.7
June 2009
1860 ± 140
74.6 ± 14.5
122
Table (3-5) Predicted chromium (VI) species in the soil extract of the polluted site
using PHREEQC program.
Chromium(VI) Species
-2
CrO4
KCrO4NaCrO4HCrO4-
Predicted concentration (mg/kg)
88
3.4
2.4
2.0
Table (3-6) Predicted chromium (III) species in soil of the polluted site using
PHREEQC program.
Chromium(III) Species
Cr(OH)3
Cr(OH)2+
CrO2Cr(OH)+2
Cr(OH)4-
Predicted concentration (mg/kg)
1400
280
3.2
2.5
1.2
Analyses of composite soil samples indicate that the pH of the soil of 7.9 ± 0.1,
which reflects the high carbonate content (42%) (Table 3-3). At this pH, chromium
(VI) is available as chromate anions CrO42-, which was confirmed by the PHREEQC
program as the major Cr(VI) species (Table 3-5). Most of the chromium in the soil of
the site exists as Cr(III) since the total chromium was 1800 mg/kg while Cr(VI) was
97.3 mg/kg. According to EPA Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure (TCLP),
the maximum allowed concentration of chromium in soil is 5 ppm [57]. So 97 mg/kg
of chromium (VI) in soil represents a direct threat to the environmental systems in the
area of the site.
123
Meanwhile, the existence of iron in soil as Fe(III) [113, 114] does not alter the
oxidation state of Cr(VI) leaving it available for living organisms (plants or
microorganisms). The amount of organic matter content may contribute to the
reduction of Cr(VI) to Cr(III) but its effect stays limited due to its small amount
(<0.42% Table 3-3). Finally the decrease of Cr(VI) in winter months (Figure 3-3) is
suggested to be due to the seasonal rains which fall in UAE within winter and it may
leach soluble Cr(VI) to the ground water.
Figure (3-3) Concentration of chromium (VI) in the soil of Ajman Industrial Zone
and the mean of rain fall [166] in 2008-2009.
The concentration of Cr(VI) observed ranged between 53 and 97 mg/kg in the
polluted Ajman industrial zone and this concentration is relatively moderate and may
be below the phytotoxic limit of Cr(VI) towards certain plants, since some plants (e.g.
124
Tamarisk and Prosopis) were thriving in the site. In such sites with moderate pollution,
phytoextraction technique is well suited for soil remediation.
3.2 Screening of local desert plants for potential heavy metal
phytoextraction activity
Three approaches were used to identify accumulators for heavy metals
including chromium (VI):
1-
Investigation of natural plants growing in the suspected polluted sites
to find natural accumulator(s) for one or more heavy metals.
2-
Investigation of six recommended plants (by environmental
municipality of Ajman) with respect to their tolerance of the harsh
desert environment.
3-
Detailed investigation of two species of mesquite (Prosipis) plant
which were reported in the literature as promising accumulators for
both Pb and Cr(VI) [28, 29].
3.2.1 Investigation of natural plants growing in the suspected polluted sites
Parallel to the analysis of the soils of polluted sites for 8 heavy metals, ten local
desert plant species naturally growing within these sites were sampled and analysed
for the same 8 heavy metals in order to find natural accumulator(s) growing in these
sites. Cadmium in these plants was also analysed since it is highly toxic. The results
are shown in Table 3-7. The major heavy metal encountered in the investigated plants
125
was iron which reached 1900, 1700 and 1500 mg/kg in Tamarix aucheriana grown in
Ajman industrial zone, Dactyloctenium aegyptium and Heliotropium calcareum
growing in Kalba, respectively. The second heavy metal taken up by plants was
manganese which reached 252 mg/kg in Euphorbia larica grown in DC. Both iron and
manganese are plant nutrients, so the uptake of these two metals does not represent an
environmental threat and the concentration of manganese in Euphorbia larica is not
considerable (Table 3-7).
Cyperus conglomerates from Dadnah coast (DC) showed specific response
towards cadmium (Table 3-7) therefore, a detailed analysis which included soil and
different parts of this plant was carried out and the results are shown in (Table 3-8).
Bioconcentration factors BCF(s) were calculated as concentration of heavy metal in
whole dry plant (mg/kg) / concentration of heavy metal in dry soil mg/kg.
Bioconcentration factors (≥ 1.0) for promising plants growing in these sites are shown
in Table 3-9. Among the fourteen plants analysed, the most promising was Tamarix
aucheriana growing in Ajman industrial site. It demonstrated a relatively high uptake
for most of the measured heavy metals with bioconcentration factors greater than 2.0
for Pb, Cu and Co (Table 3-9). Total chromium in Tamarix aucheriana growing in the
same site is 28.5 mg/kg. This is a small amount compared to the amount of chromium
in soil which is 1800 mg/kg suggesting that Tamarix is chromium excluder.
126
Table (3-7) Analysis of dry plants growing in suspected polluted sites for some heavy metals uptake.
Concentration (mg/kg)
Cd
Co
Cr
Cu
Fe
Mn
Ni
Pb
Zn
Plant/ Site
Dactyloctenium aegyptium/ Kalba
< 0.15
1.85±0.23
8.29±0.00
8.30±0.23
1700±230
40.5±12.5
50.0±17.5
< 0.14
15.7±2.8
Heliotropium calcareum/ Kalba
< 0.15
1.30±0.17
7.80±1.63
10.8±2.3
1500±194
50.1±18.6
39.3±11.1
0.75±0.12
12.5±2.4
Pluchea Arabica/ Muzeera
< 0.15
< 0.5
0.90±0.13
4.30±1.19
164± 34
52.1±14.7
3.10±0.65
6.10±1.22
22.5±0.4
Calotropis procera/ Masfoot
< 0.15
1.40±0.20
0.90±0.11
9.20±2.63
93.2±23.8
78.3±22.6
6.20±1.6
13.7±2.3
41.5±5.8
Indigofera/ Bithna
< 0.15
< 0.5
1.30±0.24
6.40±1.28
167±32
52.7±15.5
5.70±1.2
2.00±0.26
26.3±4.4
Calotropis procera/ Bithna
< 0.15
1.10±0.13
0.90±0.14
3.40±1.11
81.2±20.1
77.6±21.4
4.30±0.93
0.30±0.08
24.4±3.6
Asphodelus tenuifolius/ Bithna
< 0.15
< 0.5
1.70±0.26
6.30±1.56
58.3±16.3
20.9±3.5
9.20±1.9
0.50±0.10
40.5±6.2
Prosopis juliflora/ Ajman Desert
< 0.15
< 0.5
2.50±0.46
12.5±2.6
< 0.15
< 0.03
8.60±2.0
< 0.14
< 0.1
Calotropis procera/ Ajman Desert
< 0.15
1.05±0.17
2.80±0.51
6.50±1.90
< 0.15
< 0.03
2.70±0.82
8.15±2.34
< 0.1
Tamarix aucheriana/ Ajman I. Zone
< 0.15
2.30±0.32
28.5±6.23
28.4±4.2
1900±280
139±30
28.2±4.15
11.5±2.9
191±39
Prosopis juliflora/ Dadnah coast
< 0.15
< 0.5
1.18 ± 0.19
4.83 ± 0.45
148 ± 16.5
40.8 ± 6.2
6.40 ± 0.56
0.42 ± 0.06
30.8 ± 5.2
Prosopis juliflora/ Masfoot
< 0.15
< 0.5
1.83 ± 0.33
11.2 ± 2.1
132 ± 15.8
39.6± 5.3
3.23 ± 0.38
0.95 ± 0.14
36.0 ± 6.6
Euphorbia Larica / Dadnah Coast
< 0.15
2.75 ± 0.48
1.04 ± 0.21
3.51 ± 0.45
72.8 ± 10.3
252 ± 37.5
6.66 ± 0.75
0.75 ± 0.09
14.4 ± 1.8
Cyperus conglomerates / Dadnah
0.86 ± 0.14
< 0.5
0.99 ± 0.16
2.37 ± 0.35
175 ±19.9
79.2 ± 10.5
4.10 ± 0.5
0.90 ± 0.11
5.03 ± 0.65
(Number of replicates =3)
127
Table (3-8) Concentration of cadmium in different parts of Cyperus conglomerates
naturally growing in Dadnah Coast (DC).
Cyperus conglomerates plant tissue
Concentration of
cadmium (mg/kg)
Translocation
factor (TF)
Stems
0.50 ± 0.08
0.8 ± 0.2
Leaves
0.76 ± 0.14
1.2 ± 0.3
Flowers and seeds
1.12 ± 0.20
1.7 ± 0.4
Roots
0.65 ± 0.13
Table (3-9) Bioconcentration Factor (BCF) for some investigated naturally growing
plants (* BCF < 1.0).
Heavy metal
Plant
Pb
Cu
Co
Cd
Tamarix aucheriana
3.4 ± 0.5
4.4 ± 0.6
2.3 ± 0.2
*
Cyperus conglomerates
stem
*
2.6 ± 0.3
*
26 ± 4.5
Cyperus conglomerates
flower& seeds
*
2.9 ± 0.4
*
59 ± 5.8
Cyperus conglomerates
leaves
*
1.3 ± 0.1
*
40 ± 5.3
Cyperus conglomerates
roots
*
2.6 ± 0.4
*
34 ± 4.8
128
Bioconcentration factors (Table 3-9) of cadmium in Cyperus conglomerates
exceeded the value of 26 and reached 59 in flowers and seeds. These results are
very important since cadmium is classified as one of the most toxic pollutants in
soil and water - with concentration of 1.0 mg/kg for toxicity [57] and these BCF
values are very promising for such pollutant. The translocation factor of cadmium
(Table 3-8) from roots to leaves exceeded the value of 1.0 (1. 2) and in flowers and
seeds reached 1.7 which confirms the role of this plant in the accumulation of
cadmium.
In most plant samples the uptake of heavy metals was limited. This can be
related to the limited number of accumulators in nature and the high pH of
investigated soils (7.9 ±0.1). Most of the heavy metal cations are insoluble and
unavailable to the plants at this pH. Total chromium in Dactyloctenium aegyptium,
Heliotropium calcareum and Cyperus conglomerates, naturally growing in Kalba
and Dadnah (Tables 3-7, 3-8), did not exceed 10 mg/kg although the soils of these
sites are very rich in chromite. This confirms the conclusion that Cr(III) in black
sand is not bioavailable for plants. The results suggest that none of the fourteen
investigated plants reported in table 3-7 is a chromium accumulator. 
3.2.2 Investigation of recommended desert plants
Six plant species either local or exotic, but well adapted to the environment,
were chosen and propagated by stem cuttings. These plants were recommended by
Ajman municipality nursery due to their potential to tolerate high temperature, soil
salinity, and high pH of soil. The plants were irrigated either with acidified
deionised water for control or heavy metal nitrate solution (Co, Pb, Cr(III), Cu, Ni)
129
while chromium (VI) was introduced as K2Cr2O7. The plants were analysed for the
six heavy metal ions. Figure 3-4 shows the concentration of heavy metals in the dry
plants, BCF(s) were calculated and are shown in Table 3-10.
200
Concentration (mg/kg)
180
160
140
Portulaca oleracea
120
Bougainvillea spinosa
100
Atriplex halimus
80
Iresine herbestii
60
Pennisetum setaceum
40
20
0
Ni(II)
Cr(III)
Cu(II)
Cr(VI)
Heavy metals
Pb(II)
Co(II)
Figure (3-4) Uptake of heavy metals by a range of local plants. (Mean of
triplicates)
Table (3-10) Bioconcentration factors (BCF) for some heavy metals ( * BF < 1.0)
Heavy Metal
Cr(III)
Cr(VI)
Pb(II)
Cu (II)
Co(II)
Portulaca oleracea
*
1.6 ± 0.1
*
*
*
Atriplex halimus
1.0 ± 0.1
*
*
1.4 ± 0.1
1.0± 0.1
Iresine herbestii
*
*
1.0 ± 0.1
1.0 ± 0.10
*
Plant
Portulaca oleracea demonstrated the greatest uptake of chromium (VI)
accumulating 158 mg/kg of Cr (VI) giving a BCF of 1.6 which is the highest
among the six investigated plants (Figure 3-3 and Table 3-10). P. oleracea can be
130
classified as a promising plant for the phytoextraction of Cr(VI) since the BCF
exceeded the value of one which means that the concentration of pollutant in the
dry plant tissue is more than its concentration in the dry soil. There was no
significant difference between the dry weight of P. oleracea in control and
experimental samples in the presence of Cr(VI) (P > 0.05 using ANOVA Post hoc
test ''Tukey''). This suggests that P. oleracea may accumulate concentrations of
Cr(VI) higher than the 158 mg/kg value.
Iresine herbestii accumulated lead and copper with a BCF value of 1.0 for
these two heavy metals. Atriplex halimus showed the capability to accumulate
copper with a BCF of 1.4 and Cr(III) and Co(II) with a value of 1.0. These two
plants have shown capability to solubilise and uptake heavy metal cations even
from soil of high pH (7.9) which is in agreement with previous study [86]. In this
study Cr(III) was introduced to Zea mays in sand and soils of pH 7.2 and 7.8
respectively and observed considerable chromium uptake by plant at these pH
values.
For the three plants (Portulaca oleracea, Iresine herbestii and Atriplex
halimus), no significant difference (P > 0.05 using ANOVA Post hoc test ''Tukey'')
between the dry biomass of the experimental and the control plants was observed in
the presence of the five heavy metals. This normal growth of plants in the presence
of heavy metals may give these plants special characteristics of heavy metal
phytoextraction in soils of high pH like the soil of UAE.
Bougainvillea spinosa and Pennisetum setaceum did not show significant
absorption of any heavy metal among the six metal ions investigated in the
131
experiment. No significant difference was observed in the dry biomass between
plants grown in control and experimental conditions (p > 0.05 using ANOVA Post
hoc test ''Tukey''). These two plants can be classified as excluders for the six heavy
metal ions. The sixth plant Azadirachta indica did not give sufficient vegetation
when exposed to the five heavy metals. This indicates that these small
concentrations of pollutants are phytotoxic to Azadirachta indica as demonstrated
by limited growth, yellowish leaves and deterioration of roots.
3.2.3 Investigation of mesquite species for the accumulation of lead and
hexavalent chromium
According to previous studies [28, 29] mesquite (Prosopis juliflora )
demonstrated high ability to uptake Cr(VI) and Pb(II). Those studies were carried
out in El-Paso Texas which has desert climatic conditions similar to those of the
UAE. The potential of Prosopis species for phytoextraction of lead and chromium
(VI) from soil of UAE was investigated in the present work. Two types of mesquite
(Prosopis cineraria and Prosopis juliflora ) were used in this investigation. In this
experiment, the two plants were irrigated with either Cr(VI) or Pb(II) or deionised
water for control. The concentrations and the BCF values for Pb (II) and Cr (VI)
are shown in Tables 3-11 and 3-12 respectively.
Table (3-11) Uptake of Pb (II) , Cr( VI ) by two types of mesquite plants of UAE.
(Mean of triplicates of whole plant)
Plant
Pb( II )
mg/kg
Cr (VI ) mg/kg
Prosopis cineraria
12.4 ± 3.13
26.4 ± 5.37
Prosopis juliflora
8.46 ± 1.52
11.4 ± 2.12
132
Table (3-12) Bioconcentration factors for lead and Cr(VI) in mesquite (Prosopis
species).
Plant
Bioconcentration of Pb
(II)
Bioconcentration of Cr
(VI )
Prosopis cineraria
0.05
0.11
Prosopis juliflora
0.03
0.05
The two types of Prosopis showed limited accumulation of either Pb (II) or
Cr (VI) (Table 3-11). These results contradict those of previous studies on the same
plants and pollutants [28, 29]. This difference is likely to be due to the different
conditions used in these two studies. Agar paste and hydroponics at pH 5.3 were
used in the El-Paso studies resulting in chromium (VI) being available as
dichromate. In the present study, although the pH of the irrigation solution of
dichromate was 5.5, the high carbonate content in soil (42%) which fixed the pH at
7.9 would made Cr(VI) available as chromate. The difference in the uptake of
Cr(VI) may be due to the introduction of chromium as different species of Cr(VI)
at different pH values and in different nutrient media. In El-Paso, Pb (II) was
introduced to the plants at pH of 5.3, where it will be soluble and available to the
plant. In the present study, the soil pH of 7.9 would result in most of the lead being
precipitated as Pb(OH)2 and not available to the plants.
The results of analysis of Prosopis juliflora in four different locations of
UAE (Tables 3-7, and 3-11) did not give any indication of heavy metal
accumulation. This plant is very common in the UAE and it was sampled from
different locations in the northern emirates hoping to find some high ability of
accumulating any pollutant but the results were negative and inconsistent with the
133
previous studies [28, 29]. Nevertheless, this observation is very important in the
Emirates since Prosopis plant is the essential food of camels around UAE, so its
insignificant accumulation of polluting metals would make it nontoxic to animals at
UAE soil conditions.
Since the concentrations of heavy metals in all the plants were found to be
less than 1000 mg/kg in dry plant tissue, it could not be concluded that a
hyperaccumulator was discovered. However, the bioconcentration factors for
Portulaca, Atriplex, and Irisine (≥1.0) indicate that the concentration of the heavy
metal in the dry plant is more than its concentration in the soil suggesting that these
plants have phytoextraction potential.
Ajman industrial zone which is the polluted site suitable for phytoextraction
contains chromium (VI) as the problematic heavy metal. Concentration of total
chromium in the site increased from 1300 ±150 mg/kg in 2006 to 1850 ±140 mg/kg
in 2009, which confirms the continuity of discharging chromium (VI) wastes to the
site by, for example chromic acid. This acid is routinely used in the factory of
aluminium extrusion nearby the site.
The plant that demonstrated potential to accumulate chromium (VI) is
Portulaca oleracea since it has the highest bioconcentration factor for chromium
(VI). It is also a succulent plant and can absorb significant quantities of water and
this may enhance the phytoextraction process. P. oleracea grows in the UAE and
its optimum season is in the hot months from April to November; so it is a perfect
plant for Ajman industrial zone site which has the highest concentration of Cr(VI)
in the summer season.
134
3.3 Factors that may affect chromium (VI) uptake by P. oleracea
As a result of the previous investigations, chromium (VI) was identified as
the problematic heavy metal in Ajman industrial zone and P. oleracea was the best
option for its phytoextraction. In order to optimize chromium accumulation
efficiency by P. oleracea , factors that may affect such efficiency were investigated.
These factors include: concentration of pollutant in soil, pH of soil, organic content
in soil, competitive anions, accompanying cations, and chelating agents.
3.3.1 Effect of the concentration of chromium (VI) in the soil on its
uptake by P. oleracea
The effect of the concentration of Cr(VI) in soil on its uptake by some
accumulators was previously investigated using different plant species, however
conflicting results were reported [106-108]. The results of the present study may
hopefully contribute to the solution of this disagreement at least with respect to P.
oleracea . Plants were irrigated with 9 different levels of Cr(VI) as sodium
chromate where each group consisted of three replicates in addition to a control,
which was irrigated with deionised water. Plants were harvested and analysed for
total chromium and chromium(VI). Chromium (III) was calculated by subtraction
of chromium (VI) from total chromium in roots, leaves and stems.
3.3.1.1 Concentration and speciation of chromium in plant tissues
The concentrations of total chromium, (Cr (VI) and Cr (III)) in leaves of P.
oleracea were calculated and plotted in Figure 3-5. The concentration of total
chromium in leaves increased from 99.5 mg/kg to 1067 mg/kg when Cr(VI) in
135
irrigation solution increased from 50 to 350 ppm. Chromium (VI) in leaves
increased from 3.3 to 30 mg/kg over the same range. Total chromium in stems
increased from 72 mg/kg to 1404 mg/kg when chromium (VI) in the irrigation
solution increased from 50 to 350 ppm (Figure 3-6). Chromium (VI) ranged from
2.3 to 43 mg/kg in dry stems of the plant. Total chromium in roots increased from
404 mg/kg of dry roots to 4624 mg/kg at the same level of increasing Cr(VI) in the
irrigation solution (Figure 3-7). Chromium (VI) ranged from 32 to 135 mg/kg in
Concentration of chromium in dry
leaves (mg/kg)
dry roots of the plant.
1400
1200
1000
Total Cr
800
Cr (VI)
600
Cr (III)
400
200
0
50
100
150
200
250
300
350
Concentration of Cr(VI) in irrigation solution (ppm)
Figure (3-5) Concentrations of total chromium, Cr (VI) and Chromium (III) in
leaves of Portulaca oleracea at different concentrations of Cr (VI) in irrigation
solution . (Mean of triplicates)
When comparing mean values of concentration of chromium in the leaves,
stems and roots, total chromium is observed to increase significantly in all plant
parts as the concentration of the Cr (VI) in irrigation solution increases from 0 to
300 ppm in increments of 100 ppm (p<0.01 using ANOVA Post hoc test ''Tukey'' ,
Figure 3-8). This increase tends to be linear in roots, stems and leaves.
136
Concentration of chromium in dry
roots (mg/kg)
Figure (3-6) Concentrations of total chromium, Cr (VI) and Chromium (III) in
stems of Portulaca oleracea at different concentrations of Cr (VI) in irrigation
solution. (Mean of triplicates)
5000
4500
4000
3500
3000
Total Cr
2500
Cr (VI )
2000
Cr (III)
1500
1000
500
0
50
100
150
200
250
300
350
Concentration of Cr(VI) in irrigation solution (ppm)
Figure (3-7) Concentrations of total chromium, Cr (VI) and Chromium (III) in
roots of Portulaca oleracea at different concentrations of Cr (VI) in irrigation
solution. (Mean of triplicates)
137
Concentration of total chromium (mg/kg)
5000
4500
4000
3500
3000
2500
2000
1500
1000
500
0
R2 = 0.9419
In Leaves
In Stems
In Roots
2
R = 0.9701
R2 = 0.9637
0
100
200
300
400
Concentration of Chromium(VI) in irrigation solution
Figure (3-8) Relation between the concentration of chromium in irrigation
solution and the total chromium in roots, stems, and shoots of Portulaca
oleracea. (Mean of triplicates)
These results agree with some previous investigators who studied the uptake of
chromium by plants other than P. oleracea such as Leersia hexandra [83], Typha
angustinfolia [85], barley seedlings [89], Azolla caroliniana [106], and Cynodon
dactylon [108]. The reports of these studies came to the same conclusion that the
uptake of chromium by plants increases as the introduced chromium (VI)
increased. The results of this study differ from the results reported in another study
[107] which introduced Cr(VI) to Convolvulus arvensis in three concentrations 80,
40, and 20 ppm and found that the highest uptake by roots was observed at the
lowest concentration of Cr(VI) (20 ppm). The roots of C. arvensis began to be
severely affected by Cr(VI) at concentrations higher than 20 mg/kg so the uptake of
Cr(VI) decreased at the higher concentrations.
138
The total chromium in leaves of Portulaca increased from 99.5 to 1067
mg/kg and in stems from 72 to 1404 mg/kg (Figures 3-5, 3-6) exceeding the barrier
of the 1000 mg/kg of pollutant in both parts of the plant which indicates that a
hyperaccumulator for Cr (VI) is at hand. The concentration of chromium in the
roots broke the barrier of 1000 to reach 4600 mg/kg (Figure 3-7). Since Portulaca
oleracea has the ability to uptake and accumulate these amounts of chromium(VI),
it can be classified as a promising accumulator of chromium(VI). When comparing
P. oleracea with the other accumulators of Cr(VI) such as Leptospepermum
scoparium [62], Typha angustinfolia [85], Zea mays [86], and Leersia hexandra
[93], it can be concluded that P. oleracea may be the best among them in achieving
maximum concentration of chromium in roots and the second regarding chromium
in shoots (Table 3- 13).
Table (3-13) Concentration of chromium in dry plant tissues of Cr(VI)
accumulators.
Chromium(VI)
accumulator
Cr concentration in
dry roots (mg/kg)
Cr concentration
in dry shoots
(mg/kg)
Leptospepermum scoparium na
[62]
400-600
Leersia hexandra [93]
3300
2160
Typha angustinfolia [85]
177.5
5.6
Zea mays [86]
1824
494
Portulaca oleracea
4600
1067-1400
The percentage of reduced chromium [(concentration of Cr (III) /
Concentration of total chromium) x 100] was calculated (Table 3-13) and ranged
between 92% and 99% in roots, 96 and 97% in stems and from 96% to 99% in
139
leaves. So almost all Cr(VI) that was accumulated by P. oleracea was reduced to
Cr(III) inside the plant tissues.
Table (3-14) Percentages reduced chromium (VI) in roots, stems and leaves of P.
oleracea at different concentrations of Cr (VI) in the irrigation solution.
Concentration of
Cr(VI) in Irrigation
solution (ppm)
percentage of
reduced Cr in
roots %
percentage of
reduced Cr in
stems %
percentage of
reduced Cr in
leaves %
50
92.2
96.8
96.7
100
95.7
96.9
97.2
150
96.0
97.3
98.3
200
98.5
97.2
99.1
250
97.3
96.8
99.4
300
96.1
96.9
98.0
350
97.0
96.9
96.9
The major chromium species in both shoots and roots was Cr (III) by
percentage up to 99.4% in shoots and over 98.5% in roots, whilst soil analysis after
harvesting confirmed that Cr (VI) was still the major species in soil. This confirms
that most of chromium was absorbed as Cr(VI) then was reduced with a high
efficiency in plant tissues (Table 3-14). The percentage of reduction indicates that
most of chromium (VI) was reduced in roots before reaching shoots and this may
explain the degradation of roots at the high concentration of 400 ppm of Cr(VI) as
compared to stems and shoots. These results are in agreement with results
previously reported for other plants [79, 80, 83] and exactly what would be
expected as chromate would be expected to oxidise the plant material.
140
3.3.1.2 Bioaccumulation Factors and Translocation Factors
Accumulators can be assessed using two factors, bioaccumulation and
translocation factors. Bioaccumulation factor (BAF) is the ratio of concentration of
heavy metal in roots to its concentration in soil while translocation factor (TF) is
the ratio of concentration of heavy metal in shoots to its concentration in roots. For
promising accumulators, the two factors have to exceed the value of 1.0. The
values of BAF and TF were calculated and are shown in Table (3-15).
Table (3-15) Bioaccumulation and translocation factors to leaves and stems at
different concentrations of chromium (VI) in irrigation solutions .
Conc. of Cr in
Irrigation
(ppm)
Bioaccumulation
factors BAF
Translocation
Factor TF for
leaves
Translocation
Factor. TF
for stems
50
10.12 ± 1.15
0.25 ± 0.07
0.18 ± 0.04
100
10.25 ± 1.14
0.24 ± 0.05
0.25 ± 0.08
150
9.64 ± 1.11
0.26 ± 0.05
0.46 ± 0.07
200
10.51 ±1.16
0.30 ± 0.05
0.30 ± 0.05
250
10.47 ± 1.20
0.32 ± 0.07
0.33 ± 0.06
300
12.21 ± 1.58
0.36 ± 0.06
0.36 ± 0.06
350
15.36 ± 1.94
0.23 ± 0.05
0.31 ± 0.05
The calculated bioaccumulation factors (Table 3-15) were around the value
of 10.0 within the range of 50 to 250 ppm of Cr(VI) in irrigation solution indicating
that P. oleracea accumulated Cr(VI) in roots in constant ratio within this range of
Cr(VI) concentration. Bioaccumulation factors increased as the concentration of
Cr(VI) increased over 250 ppm to reach 15.0 at 350 ppm of Cr(VI).
Bioaccumulation factor values of 10 to 15 confirm the potential of P. oleracea as
141
an efficient hyperaccumulator for Cr (VI). No significant difference was observed
in mean values of translocation factors which ranged between 0.24 and 0.35 for
leaves and between 0.18 and 0.46 for stems. Translocation factors of chromium
(VI) using other plants did not reach the value of 0.7 [83, 109] which is in
agreement with the results of this study. The low translocation factors observed in
P. oleracea are likely to be due to the stress of highly oxidative Cr(VI) species
which would cause severe damage to plant tissues, especially roots.
3.3.1.3 Plant growth and total removed chromium
No significant difference was observed between means of roots dry weight
in the level of 0-150 ppm of Cr(VI) and in shoots in level 0-100 ppm (p>0.05)
Figure (3-9). This means that plants were not affected significantly by Cr(VI) at
these concentrations which indicate that P. oleracea can grow normally in Ajman
industrial zone which has similar content of Cr(VI). Significant decrease in dry wt.
of plants was observed at levels higher than 200 ppm of Cr(VI) (p<0.01).
Phytotoxicity symptoms were also noticed since leaves became yellow and inflated
at concentrations higher than 300 ppm. When harvesting the roots of the plants at
400 ppm of Cr (VI), they were degraded. This significant decline is an indication of
the severe stress caused by Cr(VI) which will oxidize the bioorganic materials
especially the protein of the cells. Several previous studies have indicated the
reduction of other plants biomass as the concentration of Cr(VI) increases in the
nutrient medium [79, 81, 87]. When the total chromium in both roots and shoots is
calculated, the total amount removed by 5 plants grown in one pot was increased
142
from 0.90 ± 0.15 mg at 50 to 3.00 ± 0.34 mg at 200 ppm then it declined as the
chromium in irrigation solution was increased above 200 ppm (Figure 3-10).
4.5
4
Wt. of dry tissue g
3.5
3
2.5
Shoots
Roots
2
1.5
1
0.5
0
0
50
100
150
200
250
300
350
400
Concentration of chromium in irrigation solution ppm
Total removed chromium mg
Figure (3-9) Dry weight of both shoots and roots of Portulaca oleracea at
different concentration of Cr (VI) in irrigation solution.
3.50
3.00
2.50
2.00
1.50
1.00
0.50
0.00
50
100
150
200
250
300
350
400
Concentration of chromium in irrigation solution ppm
Figure (3-10) The total removed chromium by the whole dry tissue of 5 seedlings
of Portulaca oleracea germinated in one pot at different concentrations of Cr(VI)
in irrigation solution.
143
3.3.2 Effect of soil pH on the uptake of chromium by Portulaca Oleracea
Chromium speciation in soil or water is pH-dependent as reported by
previous studies on the effect of pH on the uptake of Cr(VI) by crop plants or
microorganisms [98, 116-118]. No research was done before on using pH of soil to
enhance the uptake of Cr(VI) by potential non-crop accumulators of Cr(VI) like P.
oleracea . The present work reports on the investigation of the effect of pH of soil
on the uptake of Cr(VI) by P. oleracea as accumulator for this pollutant.
Six types of soil were prepared with different six levels of pH (6.0, 7.0, 7.3,
7.6, 8.0, 9.0 ± 0.1). Pure silica, sand of Ajman (which is very rich in carbonate
content), and calcium oxide were used with specific percentages to obtain the
different pH levels. P. oleracea seedlings were grown and irrigated either with
deionised water or with 200 ppm of Cr(VI) as sodium chromate. Another six
groups were irrigated with deionised water for control. Dry plants were analysed
for total chromium in both roots and shoots.
Concentrations of total chromium in both roots and shoots at the six
different pH levels were determined and are shown in Figures 3-11 and 3-12,
respectively. Bioaccumulation factors (BAF) from soil to roots of Portulaca and
translocation factors (TF) from roots to shoots were calculated and the results are
shown in Figure 3-13. Weight of dry biomass of plants in both control and
experimental were calculated and the results are shown in Figure 3-14 and the total
removed chromium was calculated in the total dry weight of the whole plants in
each pot and the results are shown in Table 3-16.
144
Concentration of Cr in dry roots (mg/kg)
1800
1600
1400
1200
1000
800
600
400
200
0
5.8
6.1
6.4
6.7
7.0
7.3
7.6
7.9
8.2
8.5
8.8
9.1
9.4
pH of soil
Concentration of chromium in dry
shoots mg/kg
Figure (3-11) Concentrations of chromium in the roots of Portulaca oleracea at
different values of pH of Soil. (Mean of six replicates)
1000
900
800
700
600
500
400
300
200
100
0
2
R = 0.9659
5.5 5.8 6.1 6.4 6.7
7
7.3 7.6 7.9 8.2 8.5 8.8 9.1 9.4
pH of soil
Figure (3-12) Concentrations of chromium in the shoots of Portulaca
oleracea at different values of pH of Soil. (Mean of six replicates)
The results indicate that as the pH of soil increases, the uptake of chromium
(VI) in roots increases (Figure 3-11). Significant increments between the mean
values of chromium in roots were observed when compared at the three levels of
145
pH (6.0, 7.3, 9.0) using ANOVA, Tukey test (p<0.01). In shoots, at the same three
pH levels, chromium increases significantly as pH of soil increases (Figure 3-12).
The increase of chromium in shoots is mostly a result to its increase in roots. These
results are in agreement with two previous studies [117, 118], which investigated
the effect of pH on the uptake of Cr(VI) from hydroponics using fungi and
microorganisms. Researchers found that the accumulation of chromate by the
aquatic fungi Aspergillus foetidus increased as pH of nutrient medium increased
from 4-7 [117]. In another study, it was found that between the 3 values of pH; 7.0,
8.0, 9.0; at pH 9 chromium (VI) was accumulated by microorganisms with highest
concentration [118].
Concentration of Cr(VI) in roots of Portulaca at a pH range of 6.0 –7.0 was
587 to 675 mg/kg of the dry roots with no significant difference (p>0.05 using
ANOVA Post hoc test ''Tukey'') (Figure 3-12). At this relatively low range of pH,
chromium (VI) mostly exists in soil as Cr2O72- species. At pH range of 7.6 – 9.0,
the concentration of Cr(VI) in roots of Portulaca jumped to 1300-1500 mg/kg of
the dry roots with no significant difference (p>0.05 using ANOVA Post hoc test
''Tukey''). At this range of pH, chromium (VI) exists as CrO42- species. Those two
observations reflect the effect of chromium(VI) speciation (which is pHdependent) on the uptake of Cr (VI) by P. oleracea . The high uptake of CrO42- at
pH levels above 7.0 confirms that Portulaca oleracea prefers to accumulate CrO42rather than Cr2O72-, which is available at the lower range of pH (below 7).
According to previous studies, [76, 79, 134, 136]; it has been suggested that
chromate anions use the carriers of sulfate (as an essential nutrient) in their uptake
146
by root cells due to the structural similarity between the two anions in charge,
shape and size [137, 138].
The results of the present study are in disagreement with two previous
studies carried out on the crop plants, barley and wheat [89, 116]. The investigators
of those studies found that both barley and wheat accumulated higher amounts of
Cr(VI) at the low levels of pH (below 6.1) which indicates that both barley
(Hordeum vulgare) and wheat (Triticum aestivum) tend to take up Cr(VI) as
dichromate which is the most dominant at this low pH range.
The concentration of chromium in the shoots of Portulaca shows an
increase from 262 mg/kg at pH 6 to 813 mg/kg at pH 9. This increase seems to be
linear at the six levels of pH (Figure 3 -12). The increase in the uptake of Cr(VI) as
the pH of soil increases supports the role of P. oleracea as accumulator for Cr(VI)
from soils like Ajman industrial site, which is contaminated with Cr(VI) and has
pH of 7.9 .
10.0
9.0
8.0
7.0
6.0
5.0
4.0
3.0
BAF
TF
2.0
1.0
0.0
5.5
6.5
7.5
8.5
9.5
pH of soil
Figure (3-13): Bioaccumulation and Translocation Factors of chromium using
Portulaca oleracea at different pH values of soil.
147
The increase in bioaccumulation factor (Figure 3- 13) as the pH increases
reflects the increase of the uptake of chromium in roots. Bioaccumulation factors
ranged from 3.3 at pH 6.0 to 8.4 at pH 8.0, which was the best value of
accumulation factor among the six levels of pH. The translocation factor ranged
from 0.37 to 0.62 (Figure 3- 13). It seems to be independent of the pH of soil. This
may be due to the reduction of Cr(VI) in roots to Cr(III) which suggest its
translocation as chelated cation [65, 60].
Figure (3- 14) Weight of dry biomass of Portulaca oleracea at controls and in
presence of Cr(VI) at different values of pH of soil. (Mean of six replicates)
When comparing the means of the total dry biomass at the first 5 values of
pH (6.0-8.0) in the control (Figure 3-14), no significant difference was observed
(p>0.05 using ANOVA Post hoc test ''Tukey''). This means that there is no
significant effect of the pH of soil on the growth of the plant at the range of 6.0-8.0.
A significant reduction in the weight of control samples was observed at pH 9.0
148
compared with other pH levels. No significant reduction in dry biomass was
observed in the experimental samples (irrigated with Cr(VI)) at the range of 6.08.0). But at the highest levels of pH (9.0) significant reduction in dry biomass of
plants was observed (p< 0.05 using ANOVA Post hoc test ''Tukey''). This reduction
may be due to the effect of high pH rather than the accumulated chromium since
similar amounts of chromium were accumulated in roots at pH 8.0 and 9.0 without
significant reduction in dry biomass.
Table (3-16) The total removed chromium in the total dry weight of the whole 4
plants in each pot at different levels of pH of soil. (Mean of six replicates)
pH of
Soil
Wt. of total dry
biomass in each pot (g)
Wt. of Removed Cr (mg) using the 4
plants of one pot ( in 14 days )
6.0 ± 0.1
4.54 ± 0.43
1.46 ± 0.12
7.0 ± 0.1
4.58 ± 0.45
2.15 ± 0.17
7.3 ± 0.1
4.37 ± 0.36
2.43 ± 0.21
7.6 ± 0.1
4.21 ± 0.25
2.52 ± 0.22
8.0 ± 0.1
3.77 ± 0.29
2.63 ± 0.20
9.0 ± 0.1
3.00 ± 0.31
2.66 ± 0.24
When calculating the total amounts of chromium in the total dry weight of
plants, it was observed that the highest amount removed by 4 seedlings was at the
pH 8.0 -9.0, which was 2.63 – 2.66 mg respectively (Table 3-16). This result
supports the conclusion that P. oleracea should be used in phytoextraction of
chromium (VI) from soils of high pH such as that of Ajman polluted site (pH = 7.9
± 0.1).
149
3.3.3 Effect of organic content of soil on the uptake of chromium (VI) by
Portulaca oleracea .
The role of the organic content of the soil in the reduction of Cr(VI) to
Cr(III) was previously investigated [62, 119-121]. High organic content of soil is
mostly associated with low pH of soil so the investigation of the effect of organic
content on phytoextraction of Cr(VI) in high pH soil such as Ajman industrial zone
does not appear in the literature. To investigate the effect of organic content of soil
on the uptake of Cr(VI) by Portulaca oleracea , three types of soil with different
organic matter content (0.42%, 17.5% and 35.0 %) were prepared. P. oleracea was
grown in the three types (5 replicates each) and irrigated with the same quantity of
Cr (VI) as sodium chromate. Another batch of three groups of 5 replicates was
irrigated with deionised water for control. The plants were harvested and analysed
for total chromium (Figure 3-15). Soils were sampled and analysed for Cr(VI) and
total chromium.
Concentration of chromium in dry
plant (mg/kg)
3500
3000
2500
2000
In Shoots
1500
In Roots
1000
500
0
0.42%
17.50%
35.00%
Percentage of total organic content
Figure (3-15) Concentrations of total chromium in both shoots and roots of
Portulaca oleracea at different organic matter content of soil. (Mean of five
replicates)
150
Significant decrease of the uptake of chromium (VI) by Portulaca oleracea
was observed in both roots and shoots as the organic matter content of soil
increased (p<0.01 using ANOVA Post hoc test ''Tukey'') (Figure 3-15). P. oleracea
could accumulate 3000 mg/kg Cr in dry roots in the presence of 0.42% of organic
content of soil. This amount represents the highest value compared to other
investigations in this study carried out using similar amounts of chromium in soil
(150 – 200 mg/kg) but in the presence of 15% organic content. Chromium
concentration in roots decreased to 500 mg/kg at 17.5% of organic content in soil
and to below 160 mg/kg at 35% of organic content. The quantity of hexavalent
chromium available in soil was measured and the results are shown in Figure 3-16.
These results indicate that Cr(VI) decreases as the percentage of organic matter in
soil increases. This relation seems to be linear since organic matter behaves as a
reducing agent for soluble Cr(VI) to the less soluble Cr(III), which is consequently
less available to the plant, especially at high pH range. These results confirm that
the effect of organic content of soil on the uptake of Cr(VI) by plants is indirect
since it reduces Cr(VI) in soil which will result as deficiency in its uptake by P.
oleracea . These results are in agreement with previous studies which used the
organic matter for soil amendment to reduce Cr (VI) to Cr (III) [62, 119-121].
Bioaccumulation factors (BAFs) were calculated for the total chromium and
the available Cr(VI), results are shown in Figure 3-17. Translocation factor (TF)
was calculated for total chromium and the results are shown in Table 3-17.
Bioaccumulation factor for total chromium using P. oleracea was 20 at 0.42%
organic matter and jumped to 28 when calculated for Cr(VI) at the same percentage
of organic matter. At 35.0% organic matter in soil BAF of Cr(VI) decreased to 5.0
151
Concentration of Cr(VI) in soil
140
120
R2 = 0.9868
100
80
60
40
20
0
0.42%
17.50%
35%
Organic matter content
Figure (3-16) Concentration of hexavalent chromium in soil at different
percentages of organic matter in soil
35
30
25
20
BAFs for total chromium
15
BAFs for chromium (VI)
10
5
0
0.00%
10.00%
20.00%
30.00%
40.00%
Percentage of organic matter in soil
Figure (3-17) Bioaccumulation factors of total chromium and chromium (VI) at
different levels of organic content in soil.
confirming the role of Portulaca as hyperaccumulator for chromium (VI) even in
soils that contain considerable organic matter. The value of BAF for Cr(VI) at
0.42% of organic content of soil is 28 which is the highest achieved value in this
study. This high BAF value confirms the role of P. oleracea in accumulation
152
Cr(VI) from soils of low organic content and high pH such as the soil of Ajman
industrial zone.
Table (3-17) Translocation Factors of total chromium using Portulaca oleracea
at different organic matter content of soil .
% Organic Matter
Translocation Factor
0.42%
0.40 ± 0.05
17.5%
0.54 ± 0.04
35.0%
0.60 ± 0.06
There was significant decrease in the weight of dry shoots of plants in the
controls (irrigated with deionised water) as organic matter content decreased which
is expected (p< 0.05 using ANOVA Post hoc test ''Tukey''). In the experimental
plants, (in the presence of Cr(VI)), significant decrease was also observed at 17.5%
and 0.42% of organic content when compared with dry shoots at 35% organic
matter (p< 0.05 using ANOVA Post hoc test ''Tukey'') (Figure 3-18). This is
suggested to be due to the accumulated chromium (VI) in plant since as Cr(VI)
accumulation increases, biomass reduction increases (3000 mg/kg at 0.42% and
500 mg/kg at 17.5% while it was 160 mg/kg at 35%). No significant difference was
observed in biomass of plants irrigated with Cr(VI) solution at the level of 35%
organic matter compared with control of the same organic content (Figure 3-18).
This is being due to the small accumulated amount of Cr(VI) (160 mg/kg). At this
level of high organic content (35%) most of Cr(VI) is being reduced to Cr(III)
which is unavailable to the plant at pH of 7.9±0.1.
153
8
Weight of dry shoots (g)
7
6
5
Control
4
Experimental
3
2
1
0
0.42%
17.50%
35%
Organic matter in soil
Figure (3-18) Weight of dry shoots of Portulaca oleracea at different levels of
organic matter in soil in both control and experimental samples .
In addition to organic matter content, iron and manganese may alter the
oxidation state of chromium in soil. These two elements were analysed in the soil
of the polluted site and results are shown in Table 3-18. Previous studies of metal
speciation in soil of different sites in the Emirates indicated that iron is present as
Fe2O3 or Fe3+ [113, 114] and not Fe2+. According to Iron E-pH (Pourbaix diagram)
at pH 8 (pH of soil) the most dominant iron species is Fe3+. The presence of iron as
Fe3+ will keep chromium in (VI) oxidation state. Manganese will not affect the
reduction of chromium (VI). It may oxidise Cr(III) to Cr(VI) if it is available as
Mn(IV) but at the
relatively small concentration detected (Table 3-18) it is
unlikely to have an impact. Thus organic content is the most potential reducing
agent that may affect the concentration of Cr(VI) in the soil.
Table (3-18) Iron and manganese in the polluted soil of Ajman industrial zone.
Element
Concentration in soil of polluted site (mg/kg)
Fe
4700 ± 150
Mn
170 ± 20
154
The organic matter content of the soil at the polluted site is < 0.5%. Soil
with such a low organic content that is too low to reduce chromium (VI) to Cr(III),
and in the absence of other reducing agents, would be highly favourable for
phytoextraction of Cr(VI).
3.3.4 Effect of anionic nutrients on the uptake of Cr(VI) by Portulaca
oleracea
The effects of the anions such as nitrate, sulfate and phosphate on the
uptake of Cr(VI) by certain plants have been reported in the literature. Most of the
previous work concentrated on chromate and sulfate [76, 79, 134-136], but nitrate
and phosphate were investigated to a lesser extent [129-1132]. In both cases
conflicting results were obtained for the effect of these anions on the uptake of
Cr(VI) by plants. The effect of these three anions (nitrate, sulfate and phosphate)
on the uptake of Cr(VI) by Portulaca oleracea has been investigated in the present
work. Eight groups of pots each of five replicates were prepared. Each pot
contained three seedlings of P. oleracea . Plants were irrigated with 100 ppm
Cr(VI) as Na2CrO4 alone or accompanied with 0.02M of NaNO3, Na2SO4, Na3PO4
or deionised water. The other three groups were irrigated with NaNO3, Na2SO4 or
Na3PO4 (without chromate) for control. The conditions were identical for all
groups and the dependant variable was the added anion. Plants were analysed for
total chromium.
Root lengths in the presence of nutrient anions with chromate are shown in
Figure 3-19. No significant difference in root lengths was observed between
experimental and control in plants irrigated with nitrate and phosphate in addition
155
to Cr(VI) or nitrate and phosphate only (p>0.05 using ANOVA Post hoc test
''Tukey'') (Figure 3-19). A significant reduction in root lengths was observed in
plants irrigated with either chromate plus sulfate or chromate only compared with
plants irrigated with chromate accompanied with nitrate or phosphate (p<0.01
using ANOVA Post hoc test ''Tukey''). These observations are supported by the
chromium uptake in roots which indicated that the highest concentration of
accumulated chromium was achieved in the presence of sulfate followed by Cr(VI)
only while the lowest uptake was achieved in the presence of nitrate and phosphate.
Root length cm
30
25
20
15
10
5
(water
only)
(Chromate
only)
(nitrate
only)
(nitrate +
chromate
(sulfate
only)
(sulfate +
chromate
(phosphate
only
(phosphate
+
chromate
0
Control
Exp.
Control
Exp.
Control
Exp.
Control
Exp.
Chromate only
Nitrate
Sulfate
Phosphate
Figure (3-19) Average length of the roots in the presence of nutrient anions
beside chromate. (Mean of five replicates)
Tolerance indices TI (length of roots in experimental / Length of roots in
the control) were calculated and are shown in Figure 3-20. The values of TI of
Cr(VI) in the presence of nitrate, phosphate, chromate only and sulfate were 0.99,
0.88, 0.70, and 0.62 respectively. The high values of TI in the presence of both
156
nitrate and phosphate were accompanied by the lowest accumulated amounts of
Cr(VI) in roots (Figure 3-21). This may suggest that both nitrate and phosphate
may have an inhibitory effect on the uptake of chromate by P. oleracea which may
prefer to uptake these macro-nutrients at the expense of chromate.
1.2
1
0.8
0.6
Tolerance Index
0.4
0.2
0
Sulfate
Chromate only
Phosphate
Nitrate
Added anion beside Cr(VI)
Figure (3-20) Tolerance indexes of chromium (VI) in the presence of nutrients
anions.
In a previous study [132], TI of chromium (VI) in Arabidopsis thaliana in
the presence of SO42-, PO43- and NO3- was 0.73, 0.83 and 0.70, respectively. When
comparing these results with the results obtained in the current study (Figure 3-20),
the values of TI of chromium in the presence of phosphate were very close (0.88
and 0.83). However, the higher concentration of chromium used in the current
investigation (100 mg/kg) indicates that P. oleracea has a higher chromium (VI)
tolerance than Arabidopsis thaliana which could not develop roots in
concentrations above 10.4 mg/kg. The chromium TI of A. thaliana was about 0.60
at 10.4 mg/kg of Cr(VI) only where as P. oleracea has a TI of 0.70 at 100 mg/kg of
157
Cr(VI) in dry soil. This value gives P. oleracea a preference for the phytoextraction
Concentration of chromium (mg/kg)
of Cr(VI).
1400
1200
1000
800
In dry roots
600
In dry shoots
400
200
0
Sulfate
Chromate only
Phosphate
Nitrate
Added anion beside Cr(VI)
Figure (3-21) Concentration of Chromium in roots and shoots of P. oleracea
using different nutrient anions beside Cr(VI). (Mean of five replicates)
The existence of sulfate anions significantly enhanced the uptake of Cr (VI)
from 860 mg/kg in roots of plants irrigated with Cr(VI) only to 1140 mg/kg in the
roots of Portulaca irrigated with Cr(VI) + Na2SO4 (Figure 3-21) (p < 0.05 using
ANOVA Post Hoc Tukey test). This significant increase in the uptake of Cr (VI) in
the presence of sulfate could be due to the similar pathway of uptake of CrO42- and
SO4-2 as micronutrient [79, 134-136]. Chromium (VI) in the soil of Emirates with a
pH of 7.9 will stay as chromate [CrO42-] which is very similar to sulfate ion in
charge, geometry, and size [137, 138]. Chromate anions seem to be taken up by
root cells through the activities of sulfate carriers (transporters) [136]. These
transporters are protein molecules on root cell's membrane and mostly are initiated
158
by the presence of sulfate [167], but they can also uptake chromate due to the
similarity between the two anions.
No significant difference in chromium uptake was observed by roots of
plants irrigated with nitrate and phosphate (p > 0.05 using ANOVA Post hoc test
''Tukey''). But there was significant decrease in chromium uptake by roots of P.
oleracea irrigated with Cr (VI) and nitrate compared with Cr (VI) only (p<0.01
using ANOVA Post hoc test ''Tukey'', Figure 3-20). The uptake of Cr (VI) in roots
decreased from 840 mg/kg in the presence of Cr (VI) only to 550 mg/kg of dry
roots of plants irrigated with Cr(VI) + nitrate. These results differ from the results
of a study on willow [131] which indicated that there is no significant effect of
nitrogen as nitrate on the uptake of Cr(VI) by hydroponically grown willow plants.
In another study, carried out on the uptake of arsenate anions by the accumulator
Pteris vittata , [133], the results confirmed the inhibitory effect of nitrate in the
uptake of arsenate anions, which agrees with the result of the current study (taking
into consideration the similarity between chromate and arsenate ions).
In shoots, the uptake of chromium in plants irrigated with Cr(VI) only was
significantly greater than its uptake in those irrigated with Cr(VI) accompanied
with nitrate or phosphate (Figure 3-21) (p < 0.05 Using ANOVA Post hoc Tukey
test). No significant difference was observed between chromium in shoots of plants
irrigated with Cr(VI) + nitrate compared with plants irrigated with Cr(VI)
accompanied with sulfate or phosphate (p > 0.05 using ANOVA Post hoc test
''Tukey''). Chromium in shoots was: 182.5 mg/kg in the presence of nitrate, 132.3
mg/kg in the presence of phosphate and 336.3 mg/kg for Cr (VI) only.
159
Figure (3 -22) Bioaccumulation factors (BAF ) for chromium (VI) in P. oleracea
in the presence of nutrient anions .
Figure (3 -23) Translocation factors (TF) for chromium in P. oleracea in the
presence of nutrient anions.
Bioaccumulation factor (BAF) of chromium from soil to roots decreased in
the order: in presence of sulfate> in chromate only> in presence of phosphate> in
160
presence of nitrate (Figure 3-22). Bioaccumulation factor was 8.72 in the presence
of Cr (VI) only but in the presence of sulfate, it increased significantly to 11.8
which confirm the role of sulfate in enhancing chromium (VI) uptake by P.
oleracea . Translocation factor (TF) values were 0.39, 0.33, 0.20 and 0.24
corresponding to irrigation with Cr(VI) only, Cr(VI) + nitrate, Cr(VI) + phosphate
and Cr(VI) + sulfate, respectively (Figure 3-23). It seems that the presence of
sulfate and phosphate significantly decreased the translocation of chromium to
shoots.
3.3.5 Effect of sulfate ions on the uptake of chromate by P. oleracea
In the previous investigation, it was observed that the use of 0.02 M sulfate
in irrigation solution significantly enhanced the uptake of chromium (VI) by P.
oleracea . A detailed investigation of the effect of sulfate on the uptake of chromate
by P. oleracea was therefore undertaken. Two experiments were carried out to
study this effect. Chromium (VI) was introduced as 200 ppm in the first
experiment. At this concentration of chromium, the highest removal was observed
in a previous investigation (section 3.3.1). In the second experiment Cr(VI) was
100 ppm to match the concentration of Cr(VI) in the polluted site of Ajman. The
ratio of sulfate to chromate stayed constant in the two experiments. Sulfate was
introduced at five different concentrations (0, 300, 600, 1200, 1800 ppm + 200 ppm
of Cr(VI) in each solution) into five groups of identical pots each containing 4
seedlings of P. oleracea . Each group consisted of five replicates. The sixth group
was irrigated with deionised water as control. It is believed that the uptake of
chromate takes place through the sulfate carriers in root cells. In order to determine
161
the sulfate concentration at which secretion of these carriers is being optimised, the
second experiment was carried out using the sulfate concentrations of (0, 150, 300,
600, 900 ppm + 100 ppm of Cr(VI) in each solution). The plants were harvested
and analysed for total chromium using ICP-OES, and for total sulfur using ion
chromatography. Concentrations of chromium in roots and shoots of P. oleracea at
different levels of sulfate in the irrigation solution are shown in Figures 3-24, 3-25.
Concentrations of sulfur in shoots and roots are shown in Figures 3-26, 3-27.
Concentration of chromium in roots increased significantly (p<0.01 using
ANOVA Post hoc test ''Tukey'') as the concentration of sulfate increased from 0.0
ppm to 300 ppm. The same trend was observed in the results of the two
experiments (200 and 100 mg/kg of Cr(VI) Figures 3-24, 3-25). From 300-600
ppm of sulfate the uptake of Cr(VI) stayed without significant difference (p>0.05),
however when the concentration of sulfate exceeded the value of 600 ppm,
chromium in roots decreased significantly (p<0.01 using ANOVA Post hoc test
''Tukey'' Figures 3-24, 3-25). This could be explained as being due to the role of
sulfate in initiating sulfate carriers in the plant thus allowing chromate to get into
the roots. But the increase of sulfate in the rhizosphere initiates a competition with
chromate
162
Concentration of chromium in plant
tissue (mg/kg)
1600
1400
1200
1000
In Roots
800
In Shoots
600
400
200
0
0
300
600
1200
1800
Concentration of sulfur in irrigation solution
(ppm)
Concentration of
chromium in plant tissue
(mg/kg)
Figure (3-24) Concentrations of chromium in roots and shoots of P. oleracea
irrigated with 200 ppm of chromium (VI) at different concentrations of sulfate.
(Mean of five replicates)
1200
1000
800
In Roots
600
In Shoots
400
200
0
0
150
300
600
900
Concentration of sulfate in irrigation solution (ppm)
Figure (3-25) Concentration of chromium in roots and shoots of P. oleracea at
the different levels of sulfate in irrigation solution (half concentrations). (Mean
of five replicates)
which explains the significant lowering of the uptake of chromate at the high levels
of sulfate (over 600 ppm in the two experiments) since sulfate has the priority to be
taken up due to its high concentration in soil. Similar impacts have been reported in
previous study using wheat plants (Triticum aestivum) [136].
163
No significant difference in mean chromium concentrations in shoots was
observed over the range of 0 to 1800 ppm of sulfate at 200 ppm of Cr (VI) (p>0.05
using ANOVA Post hoc test ''Tukey'', Figure 3-24). The same trend was observed
in the second experiment at 100 ppm of Cr(VI) (Figure 3-25). Concentration of
chromium in shoots approximately remained constant in each experiment. This
may indicate that the translocation of chromium to shoots depends on the
concentration of plant carrier ligands not the concentration of chromium in roots
which differs. These ligands are proposed to be organic acids such as oxalate and
not phytochelatins which are found to increase as sulfur in soil increases.
It can be observed that the concentrations of sulfur in roots and shoots
increased significantly (p<0.01 using ANOVA Post hoc test ''Tukey'') as the
concentration of sulfate in soil increases at the levels 0, 600, 1200 (Figures 3-26)
and the levels 0, 300, 600 (Figures 3-27). These significant increments are expected
Concentration of sulfur in plant
tissue(mg/kg)
for a required nutrient as sulfate.
1200
1000
800
In Roots
600
In Shoots
400
200
0
0
300
600
1200
1800
Concentration of sulfate in irrigation solution (ppm)
Figure (3- 26) Concentrations of sulfur in roots and shoots of P. oleracea
irrigated with 200 ppm of chromium (VI) at different concentrations of sulfate.
(Mean of five replicates)
164
Concentration of sulfur in plant
tissue (mg/kg)
1200
1000
800
In Roots
600
In Shoots
400
200
0
0
150
300
600
900
Concentration of sulfate in irrigation solution (ppm)
Figure (3-27) Concentration of sulfur in roots and shoots of P. oleracea at the
different levels of sulfate in irrigation solution (half concentrations).
Bioaccumulation factors and translocation factors were calculated for
chromium and sulfur (at different concentrations of sulfate) and they are shown in
Table 3-19. The bioaccumulation factors of chromium in Portulaca oleracea are
greater than the bioaccumulation factors of sulfur using the same plants, even when
the concentration of sulfur was greater than chromium in the samples irrigated by
1200 and 1800 ppm of sulfate. This can be attributed to the relatively low
concentration of sulfur in roots since most of it is being translocated to shoots.
Sulfate is reduced to sulfide (S2-) - either in roots or shoots [168] - because it is
needed at low oxidation states for building sulfur- containing amino acids (thiols)
which are mostly synthesised in leaves [169], while Cr(VI) is mostly reduced in
roots to Cr(III). It seems that chromium and sulfur have different pathways of
translocation in spite of their similar suggested pathway of take up by the same
plants.
165
Table (3-19) Bioaccumulation and translocation factors for chromium and
sulphur in P. oleracea at different concentration of sulfate.
Concentration of sulfate
in irrigation solution
(ppm)
Bioaccumulation factor
for
chromium
sulfur
Translocation factor for
chromium
sulfur
0.0
5.2±1.1
1.3±0.2
0.55±0.13
1.3±0.2
300
7.2±1.4
1.4±0.2
0.41±0.11
3.5±0.6
600
7.2±1.3
1.2±0.2
0.42±0.12
3.2±0.5
1200
4.6±1.0
2.5±0.3
0.53±0.14
1.2±0.2
1800
3.4±0.9
2.1±0.3
0.70±0.16
0.9±0.1
Figure 3-28 shows the bioaccumulation factors for sulphur and chromium
and Figure 3-29 shows the translocation factors for the two elements at different
concentrations of sulfur. The maximum bioaccumulation factor for chromium can
be observed at 300-600 ppm of sulfate in irrigation solution, and, at the same range
of sulfate in irrigation solution, the bioaccumulation of sulfur was the minimum.
This observation may reflect the competitive relationship between sulfate and
chromate in the uptake by roots, and suggest that both anions are being taken up
within the same carriers when getting into the plant. The translocation factor was at
its minimum value for chromium at 300-600 ppm of sulfate but it attained the
maximum value for sulfur at the same level of sulfate.
166
9
Bioaccumulation factor (BAF)
8
7
BAF for
6
chromium
BAF for sulphur
5
4
3
2
1
0
0
200
400
600
800
1000
1200
1400
1600
1800
2000
Concentration of sulfate in irrigation solution (ppm)
Figure (3-28) Bioaccumulation factors of sulfur and chromium in the roots of P.
oleracea at different concentrations of sulfate.
Translocation factor (TF)
4.5
4
TF for
chromium
3.5
TF for
sulphur
3
2.5
2
1.5
1
0.5
0
0
200
400
600
800
1000
1200
1400
1600
1800
2000
Concentration of sulfate in irrigation solution (ppm)
Figure (3-29) Translocation factors of sulfur and chromium from roots to shoots
of P. oleracea at different concentrations of sulfate
To evaluate the efficiency of phytoextraction process at the different levels
of sulfur in irrigation solution, the total dry weight of four P. oleracea seedlings in
each pot and the amounts of chromium removed by these plants were calculated.
167
The results are shown in Table 3-20. No significant differences between the
weights of dry biomass of plants were observed (p> 0.05 using ANOVA Post hoc
test ''Tukey''). This means that in the presence of sulfate, the effect of chromium
(VI) on the vegetation of the plant remained limited. The total amount of chromium
removed by the total dry weight of plant was the highest when the plant was
irrigated with 300 and 600 ppm of sulfate solution (Table 3-20). This confirms the
previous conclusion that the presence of sulfate in small amounts enhances the
overall uptake of chromium (VI).
Table (3-20) Total amount of chromium removed by the dry weight of 4 seedlings
of P. oleracea grown in one pot.
Concentration of sulfate in
irrigation solution (ppm)
Mean weight of total
dry plant (g)
weight of total Cr in
4 seedlings (mg)
0
3.00 ± 0.15
1.79 ± 0.14
300
3.26 ± 0.19
2.06 ± 0.17
600
3.21 ± 0.21
2.00 ± 0.16
1200
3.49 ± 0.23
1.68 ± 0.13
1800
3.45 ± 0.219
1.59 ± 0.13
The sums of the concentrations of chromium and sulfur (mol/kg of dry
roots) were calculated. The results are shown in Table (3-21). It can be observed
that at the concentration of sulfate 300 ppm in irrigation solution or greater, the
sum of both chromium and sulfur in roots ranged between 0.031 and 0.037 mol/kg
of dry roots at the half concentrations investigation (from 0 to 900 ppm sulfate).
The same sum ranged between 0.031 and 0.038 mol/kg at the double concentration
(from 0 to 1800 ppm sulfur). These close concentrations at sulfate levels 300 ppm
168
and above (300, 600, 900, 1200 and 1800 ppm) may indicate that sulfate carriers
are initiated in roots to their maximum level above 300 ppm of sulfate and are
being produced in root cells with specific concentration regardless of the
concentration of sulfate in soil which supports the role of sulfate carriers in the
uptake of chromate in plants.
Table (3-21) Sums of concentrations of both chromium and sulphur in roots of
Portulaca at different levels of sulfate in irrigation solution.
Con. Of
sulfate
(ppm)
0
150
300
600
900
Concentration in
Roots (mol/kg)
Sulfur
0.004
0.008
0.012
0.015
0.024
Chromium
0.011
0.013
0.019
0.019
0.012
Sum of
S and
Cr
(mol/kg)
0.014
0.022
0.031
0.034
0.037
Con. Of
sulfate
(ppm)
0
300
600
1200
1800
Concentration in
Roots (mol/kg)
Sulfur
Chromium
0.002
0.005
0.007
0.023
0.026
0.019
0.026
0.025
0.016
0.012
Sum of
S and
Cr
(mol/kg)
0.021
0.031
0.032
0.039
0.038
The results of this investigation suggest that chromate is taken up by plants
using the same cellular carriers of sulfate in the plant cell membrane which is in
agreement with previous studies carried out using different plants [76, 79, 134136]. The effect of chromate on the uptake of sulfate by Zea mays was investigated
[135]. Chromium (VI) was introduced as potassium chromate. The reporters of that
study observed that the presence of chromate reduced the uptake of sulfate by the
plants, which agrees with the conclusion of the current study related to the
competitive relationship between chromate and sulfate at high concentrations of
sulfate. The results of the present investigation suggest that when Cr(VI)contaminated soils are remediated using phytoextraction technologies, the
concentration of sulfate in soil must be taken in account.
169
3.3.6 Effect of accompanying cations on the uptake of Cr(VI) using
Portulaca oleracea
The effect of counter ions seems to be important in understanding the
relation between the uptake of an anion and its accompanying cation by plants [63,
65] especially when regarding the role of coupled transporters of both. Effect of
associated cations on the uptake of nutrient anions such as nitrate or phosphate was
studied in some crops plants [122- 127] but the effect of cations on the uptake of
pollutant anions such as chromate, dichromate or arsenate has not been studied
deeply. The present work looked into the effect of accompanying cations such as
sodium, potassium and ammonium on the uptake of Cr(VI) by P. oleracea . Four
groups of plants were irrigated with Cr(VI) either as Na2CrO4, K2CrO4,
(NH4)2CrO4 or with deionised water for control. Plants were analysed for total
chromium. Tolerance indexes (TI) were calculated as indicators of chromium (VI)
tolerance and the results are shown in Figure 3-30.
There was significant difference between TI values in the different groups
including control except between the two groups irrigated with potassium and
ammonium chromate (p<0.01, using ANOVA Post hoc test ''Tukey'') (Fig 3-30).
This confirms the effect of accompanying cation of chromate on the plant growth
and root developing. The plants in the two groups irrigated with potassium and
ammonium chromate demonstrated significant close reduction in root growth. This
can be explained as being due to the higher amounts of chromium (VI)
accumulated in roots in the presence of potassium and ammonium (Figure 3-31).
170
1.2
Tolerance Index
1
0.8
0.6
0.4
0.2
0
Control
Sodium
Ammonium
Potassium
Accompaning Cation
Concentration of chromium (mg/kg)
Figure (3-30) Tolerance Indexes of chromium in P. oleracea in presence of
accompanying cations of chromate.
2500
2000
1500
Roots
Shoots
1000
500
0
Potassium
Ammonium
Sodium
Accompaning cation
Figure (3 -31) Concentration of chromium in dry tissues of P. oleracea irrigated
with chromate accompanied with different cations. (Mean of five replicates)
There was significant reduction in the uptake of chromium by roots and
shoots of plants irrigated with sodium chromate compared to those irrigated with
potassium and ammonium chromate (p<0.01 using ANOVA Post hoc test
''Tukey''). Chromium content in both roots and shoots was in the order of the
171
accompanying cation as: K+ ≥ NH4+ > Na+. No significant difference was observed
between chromium uptake in roots or shoots of plants irrigated with potassium and
ammonium chromate (Figure 3-31) (p >0.05 using ANOVA Post hoc test ''Tukey'').
The highest uptake of chromium was observed in the presence of K2CrO4
which was around 1802 mg/kg in roots and 820 mg/kg in shoots followed by
(NH4)2CrO4 with 1560 mg/kg in roots and 709 mg/kg in shoots (Figure 3-31). The
lowest concentration of chromium in Portulaca tissues was observed when
Na2CrO4 was used for irrigation which was around 862 mg/kg in roots and 336
mg/kg in shoots.
The high uptake of Cr (VI) in the presence of both potassium and
ammonium may be due to the counter cation effect since the plant requires both of
ammonium and potassium cations as primary plant macronutrients. Plants may
uptake both of potassium and ammonium cations using coupled transporters [65]
which may suggest that chromate may be coupled with these counter cations
through passing the root cell membrane. These results confirm the role of the
accompanying nutrient cations in enhancing the uptake of counter anions by plants.
These results are in agreement with the results of a previous study carried out using
the accumulator Pteris vittata [133]. The workers of this study concluded that both
of potassium and calcium enhanced the uptake of arsenate as counter anions using
P. vittata .
172
Table (3-22) Bioaccumulation factors and Translocation factors of chromium in
P. oleracea in the presence of accompanying cations of chromate
Irrigation
Solution
Bioaccumulation Factor
Translocation Factor
K2CrO4
20.0 ± 2.4
0.46 ± 0.11
(NH4)2CrO4
17.3 ± 2.1
0.46 ± 0.10
Na2CrO4
8.7 ± 1.2
0.39 ± 0.10
Both bioaccumulation and translocation factors (BAF and TF) were
calculated and tabulated in Table 3-22. Bioaccumulation factors were 20.0 and
17.3, respectively, for chromium(VI) when potassium chromate and ammonium
chromate were used in irrigation solutions. When sodium chromate was used the
bioaccumulation factor was reduced to 8.7, reflecting the fact that sodium is not an
essential element for plants. This clearly reflects the priority need of plant for both
nitrogen and potassium and illustrates the effect of accompanying cation on the
uptake of chromium (VI) anions. These results suggest that the enrichment of a
polluted site with potassium and ammonium cations would enhance the
phytoextraction of chromate.
No significant difference was observed in the mean values of the
translocation factors of chromium from roots to shoots of P. oleracea (Table 3-22).
The values of TF in the presence of ammonium chromate, potassium chromate and
sodium chromate were 0.46, 0.46 and 0.39 respectively. These results may suggest
that the translocation of chromium in P. oleracea is independent of ammonium,
potassium or sodium cations as expected since translocation takes place inside the
plant tissues.
173
3.3.7 Effect of chelating agents on the uptake of chromium by P.
oleracea
Investigation of the effect of chelating agents on the uptake of cations such
as Cr(III) occurs in the scientific literature of phytoextraction but it is rarely to find
investigation on such effect for Cr(VI). It was concluded previously (section 3.3.1)
that most of Cr(VI) was reduced to Cr(III) in roots of P. oleracea . It may seem
reasonable to claim that chelating agents may affect the translocation of this cation
since it may chelate and translocate it to shoots. It has thus been decided to
investigate the effect of chelating agents such as citric acid and EDTA on the
uptake of Cr(III) and Cr(VI) by Portulaca oleracea .
3.3.7.1 Effect of chelating agents on the uptake of chromium(III) by P.
oleracea
Twelve pots of soil with pH of 5.5 ± 0.1 were prepared. At this relatively
low pH, chromium (III) is soluble and available for plants. Three seedlings of
Portulaca oleracea were grown in each pot. Sets of three pots were irrigated with
one of the following solutions: chromium (III) nitrate, chromium (III) nitrate + 0.01
M of EDTA, chromium (III) nitrate + 0.01 M of citric acid in addition to a fourth
set irrigated with deionised water for the control. Plants were harvested then
analysed for total chromium.
Concentrations of chromium in roots and shoots of Portulaca were
measured and the results are shown in Figure (3-32). Table (3-23) shows
bioaccumulation and translocation factors of chromium in Portulaca oleracea in
the presence of citric acid and EDTA as typical chelating agents.
174
Figure (3-32) Uptake of Chromium (III) in roots and shoots of Portulaca in the
presence of EDTA and citric acid. (Mean of triplicates)
Table (3-23) Bioaccumulation and translocation factors of chromium (III) in
Portulaca in the presence of chelating agents
Irrigation Solution
Bioaccumulation Factor
BAF
Translocation Factor TF
Cr (III) only
7.2 ± 2.1
0.34 ± 0.08
Cr (III) + Citric Acid
10.3 ± 2.8
0.46 ± 0.11
Cr (III) + EDTA
2.3 ± 0.4
1.8 ± 0.44
The highest concentration of chromium in roots was observed in plants
irrigated with citric acid at 930 mg/kg followed by plants irrigated with Cr(III) only
which reached 650 mg/kg. This significant increment in the presence of citric acid
(Figure 3- 32, p< 0.05 using ANOVA Post hoc test ''Tukey'') confirms its effect in
enhancing the uptake of Cr (III) by P. oleracea . Citric acid occurs naturally in
Portulaca plants [170], so it is easily accepted by the plants while it chelates
Cr(III). Bioaccumulation factor was the highest with citric acid (10.3) followed by
175
BAF for Cr(III) only with 7.2. When comparing the quantities of accumulated
chromium in the whole plant (both roots and shoots), it can be concluded that the
presence of citric acid gave P. oleracea the best chromium accumulation among
the plants in control and in EDTA, which is in line with literature reports on
Brassica juncea [140] and Lycopersicum esculentum [142, 145].
Significant decrease in the uptake of Cr(III) was observed in roots in the
presence of EDTA compared to Cr(III) only (p<0.05 using ANOVA Post hoc test
''Tukey'') indicating the role of EDTA in retarding the uptake of Cr(III). When
calculating the total chromium in plant (in roots and shoots), it was found that its
amount in the presence of EDTA may exceed its amount in the presence of
chromium only. This can be explained due to the enhancement of translocation of
Cr(III) in the presence of EDTA which should be taken in consideration. This
interpretation is supported by the enhanced translocation factor of Cr( III) from
roots to shoots from 0.34 in control to 1.8 (Table 3-23) in the presence of EDTA
which explains the low concentration of chromium in roots. The current results are
in line with the results of a previous study which investigated the effect of citric
acid and EDTA on the uptake of Cr(III) by Datura innoxia [143]. The researchers
in that study found that citric acid enhanced the uptake of Cr(III) compared to
EDTA but EDTA enhanced the translocation of Cr(III) compared to citric acid. In
another study, the role of EDTA on the uptake of chromium (III) by willow trees
was investigated [141]. The investigators of this study reported the decrease of
chromium in roots and the elevation of translocation factor in the presence of
EDTA. Their explanation of this behaviour was that EDTA may keep Cr (III) in the
176
nutrient medium which seems strange with the high translocated amount of this
element to shoots which explains its decrease in roots.
The result of the current study is in disagreement with the result of recent
study investigated the effect of EDTA on the uptake of Cr(III) by roots and shoots
of water spinach (Ipomonea aquatic) [144]. They found that EDTA significantly
enhanced the uptake of chromium by roots but inhibited its translocation to shoots.
They explained their observations due to the formation of Cr-EDTA which
enhanced the transfer of Cr3+ to the root cells and retarded the translocation from
shoots to roots. This explanation seems unlikely since EDTA is commonly used to
enhance translocation of cations of heavy metals such as Cd, Pb and Ni [139, 140,
171-173].
The highest concentration of chromium in shoots was observed in plants
irrigated with citric acid which was 426 mg/kg, followed by plants irrigated with
Cr(III) plus EDTA at 391 mg/kg (Figure 3-32). These significant increments of
chromium in shoots in the presence of the two chelating agents compared with
shoots in the presence of Cr(III) only confirm the role of the two chelating agents
in enhancing the translocation of Cr(III) (Table 3- 23).
There was no significant difference in the weight of the dry biomass
between plants irrigated with Cr(III) with and without citric acid or EDTA (p>
0.05). This may be due to the low toxicity of chromium (III) on the root cells on the
one hand and to the relatively small amounts of accumulated chromium which may
not reach the phytotoxic limit on the other (Fig 3- 33).
177
Wt. of dry plants (g)
3.50
3.00
2.50
2.00
1.50
1.00
0.50
0.00
Cr (III) only
Cr (III) + Citric
Acid
Cr (III) + EDTA
Deionised Water
Irrigation solution
Figure (3-33) Weight of whole dry plants in one pot at different chelating
agents added with chromium (III).
3.3.7.2 Effect of chelating agents on the uptake of chromium(VI) by P.
oleracea.
Portulaca oleracea demonstrated the highest quantity of accumulated
Cr(III) in the presence of citric acid, while EDTA confirmed significant
enhancement for Cr(III) translocation using the same plant. Since Cr(VI) is likely
to be reduced and translocated as Cr(III), it is interesting to investigate EDTA and
citric acid for their effect on the phytoextraction of Cr(VI). To investigate the effect
of the two chelating agents on the uptake of Cr(VI) by P. oleracea , four groups of
five replicates were irrigated with one of the following solutions: sodium
dichromate, sodium dichromate + 0.01 M of EDTA , sodium dichromate + 0.01 M
of citric acid, or acidified deionised water for the control. Each plant was harvested
then analysed for total chromium. Table (3-24) shows the uptake of chromium (VI)
in roots and shoots of Portulaca in the presence of EDTA and citric acid and Table
178
(3-25) shows bioaccumulation and translocation factors of chromium(VI) in the
presence of these two chelating agents. Figure (3- 34) show the mean weights of
dry whole plants in one pot of Cr(VI).
Table (3-24) Uptake of chromium (VI) in roots and shoots of Portulaca in the
presence of EDTA and citric acid. (Mean of triplicates)
Irrigation Solution
Components
Concentration of
chromium in Root
(mg/kg)
Concentration of
chromium in Shoot
(mg/kg)
Cr(VI)
740 ±70
250 ± 46
Cr(VI) + EDTA
730 ±120
400 ± 60
Cr(VI) + Citric acid
450 ± 90
110 ± 30
Table (3-25) Bioaccumulation and translocation factors of chromium (VI) in
Portulaca in the presence of EDTA and citric acid
Irrigation
solution
Cr(VI)
Bioaccumulation factor
(BAF)
7.4 ± 1.8
7.3 ± 2.1
Cr(VI) + EDTA
Cr(VI) + Citric 4.5 ± 1.2
acid
Translocation factor (TF)
0.34 ± 0.07
0.54 ± 0.11
0.25 ± 0.07
179
Weight of dry plants (g)
4.00
3.50
3.00
2.50
2.00
1.50
1.00
0.50
0.00
Cr(VI)
Cr(VI) + EDTA
Cr(VI) + Citric acid Deionised Water
Irrigation Solution
Figure (3-34) Weight of whole dry plants in one pot at different chelating agents
added with chromium(VI).
No significant difference was observed between mean concentrations of
chromium in the roots of plants irrigated with Cr(VI) only and with Cr(VI) +
EDTA (p>0.05 using ANOVA Post hoc test ''Tukey'', Table 3- 24). This means that
EDTA has no significant effect on the uptake of Cr(VI) which is expected since
chromium(VI) is available as chromate anion and most unlikely to be chelated with
EDTA. The uptake of Cr(VI) by roots in the presence of citric acid decreased
significantly compared with its uptake in the presence of Cr(VI) only (Table 3-24).
It is possible that citric acid was oxidised by dichromate in the acidic solution
which means that Cr(VI) in irrigation solution was decreased which explain the
negative effect of citric acid on the uptake of Cr(VI).
The highest concentration of chromium in shoots was 394 mg/kg and it
was achieved in the presence of Cr(VI) accompanied with EDTA. The presence of
EDTA significantly enhanced the translocation factor of Cr (III) (originated from
180
reduced Cr(VI) (p<0.05 using ANOVA Post hoc test ''Tukey'') from 0.34 to 0.54
but this enhancement is still small compared to the value of TF in the presence of
EDTA for Cr(III) which was 1.8. The role of EDTA in enhancing the translocation
of Cr(VI) ( after its reduction to Cr(III) in roots ) is in agreement with the results of
a previous study carried out on two types of willow plants (Salix matsudana and
Salix babylonica ) [141]. No significant differences in weight of dry plants was
observed between the plants irrigated with Cr(VI) only, Cr(VI) + EDTA or Cr(VI)
+ citric acid (p>0.05 using ANOVA Post hoc test ''Tukey''). This may be due to the
relatively small amounts of chromium in the plants (Figure 3- 34).
In conclusion, EDTA has a significant effect in increasing the translocation
factor of both Cr(III) and Cr(VI) in Portulaca oleracea but it has no significant
effect on the bioaccumulation of the chromium. This confirms the role of EDTA
inside the plant and specifically from roots to shoots which means that the
chelation of Cr(III) takes place inside the plant tissues. Citric acid enhanced the
uptake of Cr(III) but did not show such enhancement with Cr(VI).
3.3.8 Maximising the uptake of Cr(VI) using P. oleracea
As a comprehensive evaluation of the factors that affect the uptake of
Cr(VI) using P. oleracea , it can be observed that the values of bioaccumulation
factor (BAF) represent a conclusive indicator of the effect of each investigated
factor on enhancing the uptake process. Regarding the pH of soil, it was concluded
that at pH 8.0 and above, the BAF values ranged from 8.5 to 10 but these values
were achieved in the presence of 15% organic content in soil. When the organic
content decreased to 0.42% (the real percentage of organic matter in Ajman
181
industrial zone) the value of BAF increased to 20.0 and jumped to 28.0 when
calculated regarding available Cr(VI) in soil. Meanwhile, the effect of nutrient
anions on BAF exhibited an increase from 7.0 in control to 12.0 in the presence of
sulfate and while the effect of cations showed the highest BAF in the presence of
potassium (17.0) and ammonium (20.0). In conclusion, the best bioaccumulation
for Cr(VI) using P. oleracea can be achieved at: pH of soil 7.9 and organic content
0.42% where both conditions are already available in the polluted site of Ajman.
The best bioaccumulation of Cr(VI) also can be achieved in the presence of 0.02 M
of sulfate and 0.002 M of potassium or ammonium.
The translocation factor (TF) of chromium using P. oleracea ranges from
0.25 to 0.45 but this value was enhanced in the presence of 0.02 M sulfate and in
the presence of 0.002 M potassium or ammonium (0.5). A translocation factor
value of 0.6 was achieved in the presence of 35% organic content and pH of 7.0 but
these results were achieved in experimental work and far from the real conditions
in the polluted site of Ajman industrial zone.
3.4 Effect of chromium(VI) on the concentration of sulfur
containing proteins and ascorbic acid in P. oleracea .
Glutathione is a sulfur containing simple protein and it is the basic building
block of phytochelatins which are thought to chelate cations through the
translocation process from roots to shoots. Chromium (VI) is mostly reduced in
roots to chromium(III) cations then chelated either with phytochelatins or organic
acids such as oxalate. Both glutathione and ascorbic acid are thought to reduce
chromium(VI) in root tissues. In this section, two investigations were carried out.
Glutathione and ascorbic acid in P. oleracea were investigated as Cr(VI)
182
antioxidants firstly. In another investigation glutathione and the phytochelatin PC3
were determined as sulfur containing proteins. This investigation was designed to
find the most probable antioxidant for Cr(VI) and the suggested ligand to chelate it
to shoots after its reduction as Cr(III).
3.4.1 Investigation of the antioxidants of chromium(VI) in
Portulaca oleracea .
The effect of sulfate in enhancing the uptake of chromate has been
confirmed in the present study. Sulfate is being reduced, then used in the synthesis
of sulfur-containing amino acids or thiols such as glutathione which are common
antioxidants in plants. Ascorbic acid is a natural component in P. oleracea and it
may act as antioxidant. Both glutathione and ascorbic acid were investigated for
their probable participation in the reduction of chromium (VI) in P. oleracea . The
effect of Cr(VI) on the concentration of these two antioxidants in P. oleracea was
also investigated. Plants were grown in identical soils then irrigated with three
different concentrations of Cr(VI); 0, 50 and 100 ppm. The fresh shoots and roots
of P. oleracea were analysed using HPLC-MS for ascorbic acid (ASA),
dehydroascorbic acid (DASA), glutathione (GSH) and oxidised glutathione
(GSSG). The four compounds of ASA, DASA, GHS, and GSSG were eluted at
retention times of 2.4, 2.5, 3.4, 4.4 min. respectively in standards and samples with
m/z 175.1, 173.1, 306.2, 611.2.
183
Figure (3- 35) shows the chromatogram of the four compounds extracted from
shoots of Portulaca oleracea irrigated with 50 ppm of chromium(VI). Figure (336) shows the mass spec (MS) peaks of ASA and DASA. Figures (3-37) and (3-38)
show the MS peaks of, GSH and GSSG. Table (3-26) shows the concentrations of
the four compounds in roots and shoots of Portulaca oleracea . Total thiols (sum of
concentration of glutathione and oxidised glutathione) and total ascorbic (sum of
ascorbic acid and dehydroascorbic acid) were calculated and the results are shown
in Figures (3-39) and (3-40). Concentration of total chromium in shoots and roots
were calculated at the different levels of chromium in irrigation solution and are
shown in table (3-27).
Dehydroscorbic
acid
Glutathione
Glutathione
oxidised
Ascorbic acid
Retention time (min)
Figure(3-35) Mass Spec. Chromatogram showing the retention time and
intensity of ascorbic acid, dehydroascorbic acid, glutathione and glutathione
oxidised in shoots of Portulaca irrigated with 50 ppm of chromium(VI).
184
m/z
Figure (3-36) Ascorbic acid (M-1= 175) and dehydroascorbic acid (M-1 = 173) in
shoots of Portulaca irrigated with 50 ppm of Cr(VI).
m/z
Figure (3-37) Glutathione reduced (M-1 = 306.08) in shoots of Portulaca
irrigated with deionised water (control).
185
m/z
Figure (3-38) Oxidised glutathione (M-1= 611.16) in shoots of Portulaca
irrigated with 50 ppm of Cr(VI).
Table (3-26) Concentration of ascorbic acid ASA, dehydroascorbic acid DASA,
glutathione GSH and oxidised glutathione GSSG in fresh tissues of Portulaca at
different concentrations of Cr(VI) in irrigation solution .
Plant tissue and
ASA
DASA
GSH
GSSG
concentration of Cr(VI)
(mg/kg)
(mg/kg)
(mg/kg)
(mg/kg)
0 ppm root
134 ± 37
99 ± 26
3.4 ± 0.2
1.8 ± 0.3
50 ppm root
254± 49
780 ± 120
< 0.01
< 0.01
100 ppm root
< 0.1
1387 ± 153
< 0.01
< 0.01
0 ppm shoot
251 ± 52
173 ± 32
4.1 ± 0.8
2.5 ± 0.6
50 ppm shoot
212 ± 47
743 ±134
2.7 ± 0.3
3.4 ±1.5
100 ppm shoot
< 0.1
914.0 ±140.6
< 0.01
1.5 ±1.3
186
Concentration of both ascorbic
and dehydroascorbic in plants
(mg/kg FW )
1600
1400
1200
1000
800
600
400
200
0
0 ppm
50 ppm
100 ppm
Concentration of chromium(VI) in irrigation solution
Figure (3-39) Concentration of total ascorbic acid (sum of ascorbic and
dehydroascorbic acid in the fresh weight (FW) of the whole plant of Portulaca
oleracea at different levels of Cr(VI) in irrigation solution. (Mean of triplicates)
Concentration of thiols ( glutathione
and glutathione oxidised ) in whole
plant (mg/kg FW)
10
9
8
7
6
5
4
3
2
1
0
0 ppm
50 ppm
100 ppm
Concentration of Cr(VI) in irrigation solution
Figure (3-40) Concentration of total thiols (sum of glutathione and oxidised
glutathione) in the fresh weight (FW) of the whole plant of Portulaca oleracea at
different levels of Cr(VI) in irrigation solution. (Mean of triplicates)
187
Concentration of Ascorbic and
Dehydroascorbic acid in
Portulaca tissues (ppm)
1800
1600
1400
1200
1000
In Roots
800
In Shoots
600
400
200
0
0 ppm
50 ppm
100 ppm
Concentration of Cr(VI) in irrigation solution
Figure (3-41) Concentration of total ascorbic acid (sum of ascorbic and
dehydroascorbic acid) in roots and shoots of Portulaca oleracea at different
levels of Cr(VI) in irrigation solution.
Table (3-27) Concentration of total chromium in roots and shoots of Portulaca
irrigated with 50, 100 ppm of hexavalent chromium.
Cr(VI) in irrigation solution
Cr in Roots
Cr in Shoots
(ppm)
(mg/kg)
(mg/kg)
50
452 ± 87
257 ± 54
100
675 ± 116
304 ± 62
A significant difference was observed between the mean values of ascorbic
acid ASA in roots of Portulaca (p< 0.01 using ANOVA Post hoc test ''Tukey'')).
Concentration of ASA increased in roots from 134 mg/kg of fresh roots in control
to 254 mg/kg then declined to below detectable limit (BDL) at 100 ppm of Cr(VI)
(Table 3-26). This implies that the plant increased the amount of ascorbic acid
188
produced as a response to the stress of Cr(VI) but when Cr(VI) increased to 100
ppm in irrigation solution the amount of ASA decreased to BDL which means that
this entire amount was oxidised by Cr(VI). In shoots the concentration of ASA
decreased from 251 mg/kg of fresh shoots of the controls to 212 mg/kg at 50 ppm
of Cr(VI) then declined to BDL at 100 ppm of Cr (VI). The decrease of ASA in
shoots may be due to the mobility of this material from shoots to roots as response
to the increased amounts of Cr(VI) in roots. This explanation is supported by the
increase of the dehydroascorbic acid (DASA) in both roots and shoots of plant.
This increase was significant (p< 0.01 using ANOVA Post hoc test ''Tukey'') in
both roots and from 0 to 50 ppm of Cr(VI) in shoots. In roots DASA increased
from 99 in the controls to 1387 mg/kg of fresh roots at 100 ppm of Cr(VI). In
shoots, DASA increased from 173 mg/kg in control to 914 mg/kg in the presence
of 100 ppm of Cr(VI). These increased amounts of DASA in both roots and shoots
are in line with the increase of Cr(VI) in the irrigation solution from 0 to 100 ppm.
A previous study also interpreted the decrease of ascorbic acid due to its
consumption in reducing chromium (VI) [174].
Comparing the amounts of total thiols (sum of glutathione and oxidised
glutathione) which were less than 8.0 mg/kg with the total ascorbic acid (sum of
ascorbic and dehydroascorbic acid) which increased from 500 mg/kg of fresh
weight to 1200 mg/kg, strongly suggests that chromium(VI) reduction in P.
oleracea is due to the use of ascorbic acid as antioxidant. This conclusion can
explain the increase of dehydroascorbic acid in the plant tissue from 99 mg/kg in
fresh roots of control to 8 fold as the chromium (VI) in irrigation solution was
increased to 50 ppm which confirms the effect of Cr(VI) in increasing the
189
formation of ascorbic acid by the plant as response to this stress. These results are
in agreement with the results of Shanker et al. [175] who confirmed the priority of
ascorbic acid as antioxidant versus the glutathione in mung bean (Vigna radiate)
when irrigated with 50 µM of Cr(VI).
3.4.2 Effect of chromium(VI) on the concentration of glutathione and PC3
phytochelatins in Portulaca oleracea
The current study confirmed the role of P. oleracea in the reduction of
chromium (VI) in roots to chromium (III) cations (section 3.3.1). These cations
then formed chelates either with phytochelatins or organic acids such as oxalate.
This investigation aims to find the most probable ligand to chelate Cr(III) in roots.
HPLC reversed phase was used to separate and identify glutathione and the
phytochelation PC3. Standards of glutathione were eluted at a retention time of 4.7
min and PC3 at 6.2 min. In the samples only glutathione and at low concentrations
was detected to be 1.2 ± 0.7 mg/kg fresh wt. (irrigated with 50 ppm of Cr(VI)).
Phytochelatin PC3 was not detected in any sample. The lack of detection of
phytochelatins in the presence of Cr(VI) may suggest that the chromium(III) which originated from reduced Cr(VI) in roots – may be translocated to shoots of
P. oleracea using the organic acid ligands such as oxalate. These results are in line
with the results of a previous study [176] carried out on tomato plants. This study
reported that no phytochelatins were detected when tomato was irrigated with
Cr(VI) suggesting that chromium is chelated by organic acids which agree with
previous suggestions [81, 82].
190
The results of previous investigation of the current study, carried out to
determine the concentration of ascorbic acid and glutathione using HPLC-MS,
confirmed the priority to the role of ascorbic acid as antioxidant. Only small
concentrations of glutathione were detected (less than 5 mg/kg fresh wt) which
supports the results of this investigation. It seems that Cr(VI) is being reduced to
Cr(III) using ascorbic acid and then translocated as chelated cation with organic
acids such as oxalate.
3.5 Techniques for the removal of chromium from the polluted dry
biomass of P. oleracea.
Incineration is the most common way to treat the harvested contaminated
plants (after their use in the phytoextraction process). In this investigation, two
alternative proposed techniques for extraction and removal of chromium from the
dry Portulaca plants were investigated. Heavy metal cations mobility and solubility
are pH- dependent and at low pH most of the heavy metal cations are soluble thus
the suspension of ground plant was acidified using hydrochloric acid to pH 6.1,
then divided into two volumes of low different values of pH (2.0 ± 0.1and 5.0 ±
0.1) by further acidification. The two solutions were analysed for chromium (VI)
and chromium (III) then were treated either by passing through the calcareous sand
of Emirates or by electrodeposition.
Concentration of extracted chromium at different pH values is shown in
Table (3-28). Table (3-29) shows the concentration of chromium, the pH of
solutions before and after treatment using the sand, and the time for each litre to be
leached out. Table (3-30) shows the concentration of chromium before and after
191
electrodepositing and the pH of the solution after the electrodepositing process.
The percentages of removal (BOR) were calculated from the following relation:
BOR = (concentration of Cr before – concentration of Cr after) x 100
Concentration of chromium before
The results are included in Tables 3-29 and 3-30.
Table (3-28) The concentration of extracted chromium at different pH values
pH
6.1
5.0
2.0
Concentration of total extracted chromium
(ppm)
1.0
4.0
6.8
12.3%
52.3%
88.5%
% Extraction
Table (3-29) the concentration of chromium before and after treatment using the
sand of the emirates.
Extract
Solution
Concentration
of Chromium
(ppm)
%
removal
Extracted at pH 2 (before
passing through sand)
6.80 ± 0.40
pH of
solution
Time of
treatment
(min.)
2.0
The First litre (after
0.20 ± 0.03
passing through sand)
97.5%
7.8
74
The Second litre (after
passing through sand)
0.70 ± 0.05
89.2%
7.8
92
192
Table (3-30) The concentration of chromium before and after different periods of
time of implementing electrodeposition technique.
Solution
Concentration of
chromium (ppm)
% Removal
pH
Extracted at pH 2
6.8 ± 0.4
2.0
after 12h
3.0 ± 0.3
56.1%
2.4
after 24h
1.3 ± 0.2
80.8%
2.5
after 36h
1.2 ± 0.2
82.3%
2.6
The amount of chromium (VI) in the whole samples of the extracted
chromium was below the detection limit and this confirms the previous conclusion
which indicated that most of the chromium(VI) absorbed by P. oleracea was
reduced to chromium(III). When the dissolved chromium (III) in the acidified
ground plant suspension was filtered through the calcareous sand of the Emirates,
most of the Cr(III) was precipitated as Cr(OH)3. The percent removal of chromium
ranged between 89 to 97% and the amount of chromium in the filtrate was reduced
to below 1.0 ppm. This concentration meets the accepted limits of chromium in the
effluent wastewater according to Dubai municipality and the percentage of removal
of chromium in this work is in agreement with the results of removal of some
heavy metals using the same sand [146].
The use of the sand of the Emirates with high carbonate content (42%) is an
efficient and cheap technique for the removal of Cr(III) cations. When comparing
the two techniques, of using sand and using electrodepositing it is clear that the
first one is faster, more efficient in BOR and the pH of the effluent solution was 7.8
which occurs within the accepted range (6-9) of many environmental organizations
193
whereas effluent solutions in electrodeposition process are high acidic, pH < 2.6
which is still far from the accepted pH range.
As conclusion, these experiments show that the filtration of extracted
Cr(III) solution through calcareous sand of Emirates is more efficient and gives
effluents within the accepted range of pH compared with electrodeposition,
therefore, it may represent suggested alternative technique other than incineration.
194
CHAPTER 4
CONCLUSIONS
AND
RECOMMENDATIONS
4.1 Conclusions
From this study, it can be concluded that:
-
Of the twelve sites investigated, Ajman industrial zone demonstrated the
highest pollution with chromium at 1800 mg/kg of which 97 mg/kg is
chromium(VI), classified as carcinogen by the world health organization
[177]. This moderate pollution calls for the implementation of a technique
such as phytoextraction to remove this heavy metal from soil.
-
Black sand in the east coast of the Emirates does not represent real threat to
the environment in spite of its huge content of chromite and Cr(III) which is
unlikely to be extracted and it is unavailable to the plants growing in the
same area (Kalba and Dadnah).
-
Of more than twenty plants investigated, Portulaca oleracea demonstrated
the highest potential for accumulating Cr(VI). Atriplex halimus showed the
capability to accumulate Cu(II), Cr(III) and Co(II), and Cyperus
conglomerates
demonstrated selective cadmium accumulation with
bioconcentration factors ranging from 20 to 50, which is very high for such
a toxic element.
195
-
Prosopis juliflora did not demonstrate any potential for the accumulation of
chromium(VI) or lead, either in experimental or in natural plants growing in
polluted sites. This conclusion is important in the UAE since Prosopis is a
major food for camels and other animals in Emirates.
-
Portulaca
oleracae
can
be
classified
as
a
promising
Cr(VI)
hyperaccumulator since it could accumulate high amounts of this pollutant
exceeding 4600 mg/kg in dry roots and 1500 mg/kg in dry stems. The
accumulated chromium increased linearly in all parts of P. oleracea as the
concentration of Cr(VI) increased in the soil. Bioaccumulation factors for
Cr(VI) in P. oleracea exceeded the value of 28 in some experiments which
means that the concentration of chromium in the plant tissue exceeded its
concentration in soil by 28 fold. These merits put P. oleracea in a
favourable position compared to some other known Cr(VI) accumulators
like Leptospepermum scoparium, Leersia hexandra, Typha angustinfolia
and Zea mays.
-
P. oleracea has the ability to reduce Cr(VI) to Cr(III) with percentages
ranging from 95 to 99%, which indicated the high ability of this plant to
change the toxic and highly oxidative form of Cr(VI) to the safer, nontoxic
Cr(III).
-
Chromium(VI) phytoextraction by P. oleracea can be enhanced by
elevating the pH of soil above 7.5 which reflects the effect of
chromium(VI) speciation on its uptake by P. oleracea . This plant
accumulated high quantities of Cr(VI) as the pH of soil increased which
196
means that P. oleracea absorbed Cr(VI) as chromate species which is much
more abundant at this high range of pH.
-
The organic content of soil decreased the available Cr(VI) which resulted as
a lack of its uptake by P. oleracae. This is due to the ability of organic
content of soil to reduce Cr(VI) to Cr(III) which is mostly unavailable to the
plants at the high pH levels like the soil of Emirates (pH 7.9) At this level
of pH most of Cr(III) is unavailable as insoluble Cr(OH)3.
-
The highest Cr(VI) uptake using P. oleracea was achieved in the presence
of the smallest amount of organic content of soil (0.42% in soil of Ajman).
This gives Portulaca a preference in accumulation Cr(VI) from soils of
small organic content and high pH such as soil of Emirates.
-
The presence of nutrient anions such as nitrate and phosphate reduced the
uptake of chromate by P. oleracea which may be due to the need of the
plant to absorb these nutrient anions at the expense of chromate uptake.
-
The presence of sulfate in specific concentrations (300-600 ppm)
significantly enhanced the uptake of chromate by P. oleracea . Chromate is
analogous to sulfate anion since they are similar in charge, geometry, and
size. So chromate is likely to be taken up by P. oleracea using sulfate
transporters (carriers) in roots. It can be also concluded that at concentration
of sulfate above 300 ppm these transporters are being formed to the
maximum extent.
197
-
At high concentrations of sulfate, there is a competitive relationship
between the uptake of chromate and sulfate using P. oleracea . It was
observed that chromate decreased as sulfate increased in the roots of P.
oleracea . In shoots the plant translocated sulfate in larger amounts than
chromate since it is one of the macronutrients that is required for the plant.
-
The presence of ammonium or potassium cations significantly enhanced the
uptake of chromate by P. oleracea reflecting the effect of accompanying
cation on the uptake of the anions. Since both of ammonium and potassium
are being taken up by coupled transporters (in root cell membrane) it is
suggested that chromate may be taken up coupled with these nutrient
cations. The effect of counter cation on the uptake of accompanying anions
needs future investigation.
-
When evaluating the effect of chelating agents on the uptake of chromium
by P. oleracea , it was found that EDTA in the soil enhanced the
translocation of both Cr(III) and Cr(VI) (after its reduction). This plant
demonstrated a high potential for accumulating Cr(III) in the presence of
citric acid, while it did not show this potential in the uptake of Cr(VI) in the
presence of the same chelating agent.
-
The translocation factor of Cr(VI) (after its reduction in roots), using P.
oleracea or other Cr(VI) accumulators is still below the value of 1.0. The
enhancement of the translocation factor of Cr(VI) still needs further
investigation.
198
-
Ascorbic acid is the most dominant reducing agent for Cr(VI) to Cr(III)
inside P. oleracea tissues, while glutathione has a minor effect in the
reduction of Cr(VI). The effect of sulfate in enhancing the role of
glutathione in the reduction of Cr(VI) needs more investigation.
-
P. oleracea demonstrated considerable ability to increase the production of
ascorbic acid as the concentration of Cr(VI) in the irrigation solution
increased, which indicates the strong adaptability of this plant under the
stress of such oxidative pollutant.
-
Phytochelatin PC3 was not detected in P. oleracea grown in the presence of
Cr(VI) which may suggest that chromium(III) - which originated from
reduced Cr(VI) in roots – may be translocated to shoots of P. oleracea
using the organic acid ligands such as oxalate.
-
The extraction of Cr(III) from dried plant tissue is most efficient after
acidification of a suspension of ground plant material. The use of
calcareous sand in the filtration of Cr(III) is a very efficient technique. The
percentage of removal of chromium using this technique ranged between 89
to 97% and the amount of chromium in the filtrate was reduced to <1.0
ppm. This concentration meets the accepted limits of chromium in the
effluent wastewater according to Dubai environmental regulations. The pH
of the effluent solution was (7.8) which lies within the accepted range (6.09.0) of many environmental organizations.
199
4.2 Recommendations
-
Chromium (VI) in the soil of Ajman industrial zone represents a serious
threat and should be removed urgently since this contaminated area
contains many civilian establishments such as schools and workshops.
-
Phytoremediation seems to be promising, cheap, and easily implemented in
the remediation of the soil of UAE and this study recommends that more
research is carried out in this field not only with heavy metals but also with
organic pollutants since the oil industry is common in UAE.
-
Desert plants may be of interest in the field of phytoremediation research
since they have exceptional potential to tolerate the hard conditions of
desert. Among these plants Iresine herbestii and Atriplex halimus which
have shown capability to solubilise and uptake heavy metal cations such as
cobalt, copper, chromium(III) and lead from soil of Emirates with the high
pH (7.9).
-
The environmental regulations should be developed and applied in the field
especially in the northern emirates whereas many factories and workshops
do not implement these regulations.
-
This study suggests the need to carry out further investigations on the effect
of sulfate on the role of glutathione in the reduction of Cr(VI) and the effect
of counter cation on the uptake on accompanying pollutant anions such as
chromate.
200
-
Designing experiments in the field of phytoremediation and phytoextraction
needs more control of especially the pH of the nutrient medium which
strongly affects heavy metal speciation and availability. Plant nutrients
(cations and anions) may enhance or inhibit the uptake of heavy metal, so
they must be taken in account when designing experiments. Researchers
should be more careful when declaring that a plant is an accumulator to
specific heavy metal e.g. a plant may be efficient accumulator for Cr(III)
but not necessary be efficient for Cr(VI).
201
202
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Appendices
Appendix (1)
Numerical data for section 3.2
Uptake of heavy metals by a range of local plants.
Heavy metal
(mg/kg)
Plant
Portulaca oleracea
Bougainvillea spinosa
Atriplex halimus
Iresine herbestii
Pennisetum setaceum
Co (II )
Pb( II)
Cr (VI )
Cu (II)
Cr (III)
Ni(II)
<0.5
<0.5
110 ± 20
2.4 ± 0.3
<0.5
37 ± 8
12 ± 2
9±2
100 ± 10
<0. 14
158 ± 27
8±1
40 ± 8
90 ± 14
<0.4
<0.2
<0.2
140 ± 15
94 ± 11
35 ± 5
60 ± 10
<0.4
95 ± 14
7±2
16 ± 4
20 ± 3
<0.6
40 ± 6
9±1
<0.6
Concentration of total added chromium in soil and the measured concentration at
harvesting time.
Experiment (Number
and details)
(3)
(4)
Total added chromium
or other heavy metal in
soil (mg/kg)
100
250
216
Measured quantity at
the harvest (mg/kg)
90 ± 5
230 ± 10
Appendix (2)
Numerical data for section 3.3.1
Total added concentration of chromium in soil and the measured at harvesting time.
Concentration of Cr(VI)
in irrigation solution
(ppm)
50
100
150
200
250
300
350
400
Total added chromium in
soil (mg/kg)
Measured quantity at
the harvest (mg/kg)
40 ±5
90 ±7
130 ±10
190 ±5
220 ±10
250 ±15
300 ±15
360 ±15
50
100
150
200
250
300
350
400
Comparing the means of concentration of Cr in roots at 50, 150, 250 and 350 ppm levels
of chromium in irrigation solution.
Dependent Variable: Concentration of total chromium in roots (SPSS- Tukey HSD)
Conc. of Cr(VI) in
irrigation soln.
(ppm)
50
150
250
350
Conc. of Cr(VI) in
irrigation soln. in
groups of
comparison (ppm)
150
250
350
50
250
350
50
150
350
50
150
250
Mean chromium
concentration in roots
for each group (mg/kg)
1200
2300
4600
400
2300
4600
400
1200
4600
400
1200
2300
217
Significance
(p value)
0.01
<0.001
<0.001
0.01
0.003
<0.001
<0.001
0.003
<0.001
<0.001
<0.001
<0.001
Comparing the means of concentration of Cr in roots at 100, 200, 300 and 350 ppm levels
of chromium in irrigation solution
Dependent Variable: Concentration of total chromium in roots (SPSS- Tukey HSD)
Conc. of Cr(VI) in
irrigation soln.
(ppm)
100
200
300
350
Conc. of Cr(VI) in
irrigation soln. in groups
of comparison (ppm)
Mean chromium
concentration in roots
for each group (mg/kg)
200
300
2000
3100
0.005
350
4600
<0.001
100
900
0.005
300
3100
4600
0.009
<0.001
900
<0.001
200
2000
0.009
350
4600
100
900
200
0.001
<0.001
350
100
200
300
3100
Significance
(p value)
<0.001
<0.001
0.001
Multiple Comparisons of means of concentration of Cr in leaves at 50, 150, 250 and 350
ppm levels of chromium in irrigation solution
Dependent Variable: Concentration of total chromium in leaves (SPSS- Tukey HSD)
Conc. of Cr(VI) in
irrigation soln.
(ppm)
leaf 50
leaf 150
leaf 250
leaf 350
Conc. of Cr(VI) in
irrigation soln. in
groups of comparison
(ppm)
Mean chromium
concentration in leaves
for each group (mg/kg)
Significance
(p value)
leaf 150
leaf 250
320
760
0.031
<0.001
leaf 350
1100
<0.001
leaf 50
100
0.031
leaf 250
760
leaf 350
leaf 50
1100
100
0.001
<0.001
<0.001
leaf 150
320
0.001
leaf 350
1100
leaf 50
100
320
0.005
<0.001
leaf 150
leaf 250
760
218
<0.001
0.005
Multiple Comparisons of means of concentration of Cr in leaves at 100, 200, and 300 ppm
levels of chromium in irrigation solution
Dependent Variable: Concentration of total chromium in leaves (SPSS- Tukey HSD)
Conc. of Cr(VI) in
irrigation soln.
(ppm)
Conc. of Cr(VI) in
irrigation soln. in groups
of comparison (ppm)
Mean chromium
concentration in leaves
for each group (mg/kg)
Significance
(p value)
leaf 100
leaf 200
leaf 300
610
1100
0.003
leaf 200
leaf 100
210
0.003
leaf 300
1100
210
0.001
<0.001
610
0.001
leaf 300
leaf 100
leaf 200
<0.001
Multiple Comparisons of means of concentration of Cr in stems at 100, 200, 350 and 350
ppm levels of chromium in irrigation solution
Dependent Variable: Concentration of total chromium in stems (SPSS- Tukey HSD)
Conc. of Cr(VI) in
irrigation soln.
(ppm)
Conc. of Cr(VI) in
irrigation soln. in groups
of comparison (ppm)
Mean chromium
concentration in stems
for each group (mg/kg)
Significance
(p value)
stem 100
stem 200
stem 350
600
1400
0.008
stem 200
stem 100
220
stem 350
1400
220
0.008
<0.001
stem 350
stem 100
stem 200
600
219
<0.001
<0.001
<0.001
Multiple Comparisons of means of concentration of Cr in stems at 100, 150, and 300 ppm
levels of chromium in irrigation solution
Dependent Variable: Concentration of total chromium in stems (SPSS- Tukey HSD)
Conc. of Cr(VI) in
irrigation soln.
(ppm)
Conc. of Cr(VI) in
irrigation soln. in
groups of comparison
(ppm)
Mean chromium
concentration in stems
for each group (mg/kg)
Significance
(p value)
stem 100
stem 150
stem 300
570
1100
0.004
stem 150
stem 100
220
stem 300
1100
220
0.004
<0.001
stem 300
stem 100
stem 150
570
<0.001
<0.001
<0.001
Multiple Comparisons of means of concentration of Cr in stems at 50, 150, and 300 ppm
levels of chromium in irrigation solution
Dependent Variable: Concentration of total chromium in stems (SPSS- Tukey HSD)
Conc. of Cr(VI) in
irrigation soln.
(ppm)
stem 50
stem 150
stem 300
Conc. of Cr(VI) in
irrigation soln. in
groups of comparison
(ppm)
Mean chromium
concentration in stems
for each group (mg/kg)
Significance
(p value)
stem 150
stem 300
570
0.001
1100
<0.001
stem 50
70
stem 300
1100
0.001
<0.001
stem 50
stem 150
70
570
<0.001
<0.001
220
Appendix (3)
Numerical data for section 3.3.2
Concentration of total chromium in shoots and roots of P. oleracea at different pH values
of soil
pH
Concentration of Chromium
in Roots of P. oleracea
Concentration of Chromium in
shoots of P. oleracea
6.0 ± 0.1
590 ± 100
260 ± 60
7.0 ± 0.1
680 ± 70
420 ± 60
7.3 ± 0.1
1060 ± 150
450 ± 60
7.6 ± 0.1
1290 ± 180
480 ± 70
8.0 ± 0.1
1490 ±170
60 ± 100
9.0 ± 0.1
1450 ± 160
800 ± 70
Total added concentration of chromium in soil and the measured at harvesting time at
different pH values of soil.
Experiment (6)
pH of soil
6.0
7.0
7.3
7.6
8.0
9.0
Total added chromium
or other heavy metal in
soil mg/kg
200
200
200
200
200
200
221
Measured quantity
at the harvest mg/kg
180 ±10
180 ±10
180 ±10
175 ±15
177 ±15
175 ±15
Multiple Comparisons of means of concentration of Cr in shoots at different values of soil
pH.
Dependent Variable: Concentration of total chromium in shoots (SPSS- Tukey HSD)
pH of soil
6.0
7.0
pH of soil of
compared groups
7.6
8.0
420
450
<0.001
<0.001
7.6
480
<0.001
8.0
560
<0.001
9.0
810
<0.001
6.0
260
<0.001
7.3
450
480
0.95
0.83
560
9.0
810
0.01
<0.001
6.0
260
<0.001
7.0
420
0.95
7.6
480
1.00
8.0
560
810
0.08
<0.001
9.0
6.0
260
0.00
7.0
420
0.83
7.3
450
1.00
8.0
560
9.0
810
0.17
<0.001
6.0
260
420
<0.001
7.0
7.3
9.0
Significance
(p value)
7.0
7.3
7.6
8.0
7.3
Mean
Concentration of
total chromium in
shoots (mg/kg)
0.01
450
0.08
7.6
480
9.0
810
0.17
<0.001
6.0
260
<0.001
7.0
420
<0.001
7.3
450
480
<0.001
7.6
8.0
560
222
<0.001
<0.001
Multiple Comparisons of means of concentration of Cr in shoots at three different values
of soil pH.
Dependent Variable: Concentration of total chromium in shoots (SPSS- Tukey HSD)
pH of soil
6.0
pH of soil of
compared group
7.3
9.0
6.0
9.0
6.0
7.3
7.3
9.0
Mean Concentration
of total chromium in
shoots (mg/kg)
450
810
260
810
260
450
Significance
(p value)
<0.001
<0.001
<0.001
<0.001
<0.001
<0.001
Multiple Comparisons of means of concentration of Cr in roots at three different values
of soil pH.
Dependent Variable: Concentration of total chromium in roots (SPSS- Tukey HSD)
pH of soil
6.0
7.3
9.0
pH of soil of
compared group
7.3
9.0
6.0
9.0
6.0
7.3
Mean Concentration
of total chromium in
roots (mg/kg)
1100
1500
600
1500
600
1100
223
Significance
(p value)
<0.001
<0.001
<0.001
<0.001
<0.001
<0.001
Multiple Comparisons of means of concentration of Cr in roots at different values of soil
pH.
Dependent Variable: Concentration of total chromium in roots (SPSS- Tukey HSD)
pH of soil
6.0
7.0
pH of soil of
compared
group
7.6
8.0
700
1100
0.81
<0.001
7.6
1300
<0.001
8.0
1500
<0.001
9.0
1500
<0.001
6.0
600
7.3
1100
1300
0.81
<0.001
1500
<0.001
<0.001
9.0
1500
<0.001
6.0
600
<0.001
7.0
700
<0.001
7.6
1300
8.0
1500
1500
0.03
<0.001
9.0
6.0
600
<0.001
<0.001
7.0
700
<0.001
7.3
1100
0.03
8.0
1500
0.08
9.0
1500
6.0
600
700
0.23
<0.001
7.0
7.3
9.0
Significance
(p value)
7.0
7.3
7.6
8.0
7.3
Mean Concentration
of total chromium in
roots (mg/kg)
1100
<0.001
<0.001
7.6
1300
0.08
9.0
1500
6.0
600
0.99
<0.001
7.0
700
<0.001
7.3
1100
1300
<0.001
1500
0.99
7.6
8.0
0.23
224
Appendix (4)
Numerical data for section 3.3.3
Concentration of total chromium in shoots and roots of P. oleracea at different
concentrations of organic content of soil
% Total Organic Matter
Content
Concentration of
Chromium in Shoots
(mg/kg)
Concentration of
Chromium in Roots
(mg/kg)
35%
93 ± 14
160 ± 16
17.5%
280 ± 23
520 ± 40
0.42%
1200 ± 140
3000 ± 210
Concentration of chromium(VI) in soil at different concentrations of organic content of
soil.
% Organic
Matter
35% org
17.5% org
0.42% org
Concentration of Chromium (VI) in soil (mg/kg)
30 ± 6
60 ± 10
110 ± 18
Multiple Comparisons of means of concentration of Cr in roots in the presence of
different concentrations of organic content of soil. (SPSS- Tukey HSD).
Dependent Variable: Concentration of total chromium in roots .
Percentage of
organic content
.042%
17.5%
35%
Per. of organic
Mean Concentration
content of compared
of total chromium in
groups
roots (mg/kg)
17.5%
500
35%
200
.042%
3000
35%
200
.042%
3000
17.5%
500
225
Significance
(p value)
<0.001
<0.001
<0.001
<0.001
<0.001
<0.001
Appendix (5)
Numerical data for section 3.3.4
Concentration of Chromium in roots and shoots of P. oleracea using different nutrient
anions beside Cr(VI).
Companying Ion to
Cr(VI) and Plant Tissue
NO3SO42PO43Cr (VI) only
Concentration of Cr in
dry roots (mg/kg)
550 ± 90
1100 ± 130
650 ± 100
840 ± 100
Concentration of Cr in dry
shoots (mg/kg)
180 ± 90
280 ± 90
130 ± 30
400 ± 100
Average length of the roots in each type of investigated plants and tolerance index
Cr(VI) only
Control
Exp.
23.8 ± 2.2
16.6 ± 2.7
Tolerance
0.70 ± 0.14
With nitrate
Control
Exp.
With sulfate
Control
Exp.
With phosphate
Control
Exp.
24.4 ± 2.7
24.0 ± 3.0
24.1 ± 2.8
24.2 ± 2.4
0.99± 0.14
15.0 ± 2.5
0.62 ± 0.10
21.4 ± 3.1
0.88± 0.15
Index
Added chromium in soil and concentration measured at harvesting time.
Irrigation Solution
Na2CrO4 + 0.02M of NaNO3
Na2CrO4+ 0.02M of Na3PO4
Na2CrO4only
Added chromium
(mg/kg)
120
120
120
Na2CrO4+ 0.02M of Na2SO4
120
226
Measured at harvesting
time (mg/kg)
110 ± 5
105 ± 5
95 ± 10
90 ± 10
Multiple Comparisons of means of concentration of Cr in roots in the presence of
different nutrient anions in the irrigation solution. (SPSS- Tukey HSD)
Dependent Variable: Concentration of total chromium in roots of P. oleracea
Anions in
irrigation
solution
Cr(VI) only
Cr(VI) + Nitrate
Cr(VI) + Sulfate
Cr(VI) + Phosphate
Compared groups
Mean Concentration
of total chromium in
roots (mg/kg)
Cr(VI) + Nitrate
Cr(VI) + Sulfate
550
<0.001
1100
0.02
Cr(VI) + Phosphate
650
0.06
Cr(VI) only
840
1100
<0.001
Cr(VI) + Sulfate
Cr(VI) + Phosphate
Cr(VI) only
650
840
Cr(VI) + Nitrate
550
0.02
<0.001
Cr(VI) + Phosphate
650
<0.001
Cr(VI) only
840
550
0.06
0.49
1100
<0.001
Cr(VI) + Nitrate
Cr(VI) + Sulfate
Significance
(p value)
<0.001
0.49
Multiple Comparisons of means of concentration of Cr in shoots in the presence of
different nutrient anions in the irrigation solution. (SPSS- Tukey HSD)
Dependent Variable: Concentration of total chromium in shoots.
Anions in
irrigation
solution
Cr(VI) only
Cr(VI) + Nitrate
Cr(VI) + Sulfate
Cr(VI) + Phosphate
Compared groups
Mean Concentration
of total chromium in
roots (mg/kg)
Cr(VI) + Nitrate
Cr(VI) + Sulfate
180
<0.001
280
Cr(VI) + Phosphate
130
0.13
<0.001
Cr(VI) only
Cr(VI) + Sulfate
400
280
Cr(VI) + Phosphate
Cr(VI) only
130
400
Cr(VI) + Nitrate
180
0.10
Cr(VI) + Phosphate
130
0.01
Cr(VI) only
400
180
0.00
0.59
280
0.01
Cr(VI) + Nitrate
Cr(VI) + Sulfate
Significance
(p value)
<0.001
0.10
0.59
0.13
227
Appendix (6)
Numerical data for section 3.3.5
Concentration of sulfur and chromium in roots and shoots of Portulaca at different levels
of sulfate in the irrigation solution (at half concentration of both elements )
In irrigation solution
In Roots (mg/kg)
In Shoots (mg/kg)
(mg/kg)
Sulfur
Chromium
Sulfur
Chromium
Sulfur
Chromium
0
100
112 ± 21
562 ± 90
182 ± 39
315 ± 80
150
100
262 ± 37
701 ± 107
380 ± 72
272 ± 81
300
100
370 ± 72
990 ± 117
561 ±102
294 ±74
600
100
470 ± 70
1010 ± 94
679 ± 138
270 ± 67
900
100
779 ± 78
635 ± 82
891 ±152
208 ± 61
<0.5
288 ± 56
<0.5
Control
(Irrigated
deionised water
by 173 ± 40
228
Multiple Comparisons of means of concentration of Cr in roots in the presence of
different concentrations of sulfur in the irrigation solution.
Dependent Variable: Concentration of total chromium in roots (SPSS- Tukey HSD)
Conc. of sulfur
in irrigation
soln. (mg/kg)
S0
S300
Compared
groups
S300
S600
1350
S1200
830
S1800
640
990
S0
S600
S1200
S1800
Significance
(p value)
<0.001
<0.001
1300
0.06
<0.001
<0.001
640
0.99
<0.001
<0.001
S0
990
<0.001
S300
1350
S1200
830
0.99
<0.001
S1800
640
990
S1200
S1800
S600
Mean Concentration of
total chromium in roots
(mg/kg)
S0
S300
1300
830
<0.001
1350
0.06
<0.001
S600
1300
<0.001
S1800
640
S0
990
0.02
<0.001
S300
1350
1300
<0.001
830
0.02
S600
S1200
<0.001
229
Multiple Comparisons of means of concentration of Cr in shoots in the presence of
different concentrations of sulfur in the irrigation solution. (SPSS- Tukey HSD)
Dependent Variable: Concentration of total chromium in shoots.
Conc. of sulfur in
irrigation soln.
(mg/kg)
S0
S300
S600
S1200
S1800
Conc. of sulfur
in compared
groups
Mean Concentration of
total chromium in
shoots (mg/kg)
Significance
(p value)
S300
S600
S1200
S1800
S0
S600
S1200
S1800
S0
S300
S1200
S1800
S0
S300
550
550
450
440
450
550
450
440
450
550
450
440
450
550
1.00
1.00
0.19
0.18
1.00
1.00
0.15
0.14
1.00
1.00
0.17
0.16
0.19
0.15
S600
550
0.17
S1800
S0
S300
S600
S1200
440
450
550
550
450
1.00
0.18
0.14
0.16
1.00
230
Appendix (7)
Numerical data for section 3.3.6
Average length of the roots and tolerance indexes for chromium(VI) in the presence of
different cations.
Irrigation solution
Na2CrO4
K2CrO4
(NH4)2CrO4
Control
Average Length
of Roots (cm)
17 ± 2.2
9.1 ± 1.5
12.1 ± 2.1
23.1 ± 3.1
Tolerance Index TI
0.74 ± 0.11
0.39 ± 0.08
0.53 ± 0.10
Concentration of Chromium in dry tissues of Portulaca oleracea irrigated by chromate
accompanied with different cations.
Accompanying cation to
Cr(VI)
Concentration of Cr mg/kg
In Dry Roots
Na+
K+
NH4 +
860 ±100
1800 ± 300
1560 ±130
In Dry Shoots
340 ± 100
820 ± 190
710 ± 120
Added chromium in soil and measured at harvesting time
Irrigation Solution
Na+
K+
NH4 +
Added chromium
(mg/kg)
120
120
120
231
Measured at harvesting
time (mg/kg)
100 ± 5
90 ± 10
90 ± 10
Multiple Comparisons of means of concentration of Cr in roots in the presence of
different cations in the irrigation solution (SPSS- Tukey HSD).
Dependent Variable: Concentration of total chromium in shoots.
Cation
Cations of compared
groups
sodium
potassium
ammonium
Mean Concentration of
total chromium in roots
(mg/kg)
potassium
-1300
ammonium
-10000
sodium
1300
ammonium
240
sodium
1000
potassium
-240
Significance
(p value)
<0.001
<0.001
<0.001
0.08
<0.001
0.08
232
Appendix (8)
Numerical data for section 3.3.7
Uptake of chromium (III) in roots and shoots of Portulaca in the presence of EDTA and
citric acid.
Irrigation Solution
Components
Concentration in
Root (mg/kg)
Concentration in Shoots
(mg/kg)
Cr (III) only
650 ±110
220 ± 30
Cr (III) + Citric Acid
930 ± 130
430 ± 190
Cr (III) + EDTA
220 ± 40
390 ± 60
Added chromium in soil and measured at harvesting time
Added chromium
(mg/kg)
Irrigation Solution
Cr (III) only
Cr (III) + Citric Acid
100
100
Cr (III) + EDTA
100
Measured at harvesting
time (mg/kg)
90 ± 5
90 ± 5
94 ± 5
Multiple Comparisons of means of Uptake of chromium (III) in of Portulaca in the
presence of EDTA and citric acid using SPSS, Tukey- HSD.
Dependent Variable: Concentration of total chromium in roots.
Chelating agent
Compared
added to chromium
groups
Cr only
citric
EDTA
citric
EDTA
Mean Concentration of
total chromium in roots
(mg/kg)
930
Significance
(p value)
0.004
220
0.001
Cr only
650
0.004
EDTA
220
.<0.001
Cr only
650
0.001
citric
930
<0.001
233
Multiple Comparisons of means of Uptake of chromium (VI) in of Portulaca in the
presence of EDTA and citric acid using SPSS, Tukey- HSD.
Dependent Variable: Concentration of total chromium in roots.
Chelating agent
Compared
added to chromium
groups
Cr only
citric
EDTA
citric
EDTA
Mean Concentration of
total chromium in roots
(mg/kg)
450
Significance
(p value)
<0.001
730
0.091
<0.001
Cr only
740
EDTA
730
Cr only
740
0.091
citric
450
<0.001
<0.001
234
Appendix (9)
Numerical data for section 3.4.1
Calibration curves of ascorbic acid, dehydroascorbic acid, glutathione, glutathione
oxidised using HPLC-MS.
y = 348.41x + 7534.7
R2 = 0.998
80000
70000
Peak Area
60000
50000
40000
30000
20000
10000
0
0
50
100
150
200
Concentratiom ppm
Calibration curve of ascorbic acid
y = 124.04x + 1638.6
R2 = 0.9994
35000
30000
Peak area
25000
20000
15000
10000
5000
0
0
50
100
150
200
Concentration ppm
Calibration curve of dehydroascorbic acid
235
250
300
y = 3291.1x - 535.22
R2 = 0.9998
35000
30000
Peak Area
25000
20000
15000
10000
5000
0
0
2
4
6
8
10
12
Concentration ppm
Calibration curve of glutathione
35000
y = 2968.6x + 128.68
R2 = 0.9991
30000
Peak Area
25000
20000
15000
10000
5000
0
0
2
4
6
Concentration ppm
Calibration curve of oxidised glutathione
236
8
10
12
Appendix (10)
Portulaca oleracea
Portulaca oleracea or Purslane (Figure 1) is a succulent plant that grows naturally in
the coast line of the UAE. The growth of this plant is mostly between March and December
or in the warm to hot seasons of UAE. The plant is being used for nutrient and medical
purposes. In Arabian countries, it is used in salad since it is rich in vitamins such as A and C
and omega-3 fatty acids. It has both laxative and diuretic effect and it is used for treatment
of burns and as an anti-scorbutic. The whole plant is effective as an antibacterial in bacterial
dysentery. The plant can be reproduced either by seeds which are tiny and black or by
cuttings of the stem of the plants which are much branched [1]. The plant can spread
vertically up to 16 inches and horizontally between 2-3 feet.
Figure(1) Portulaca oleracea or Purslane.
[1] M.V.D Jongbloed, Wildflowers of the United Arab Emirates, Environmental Research
and Wildlife Development Agency (ERWDA), 2003.
237
Appendix (11)
Portulaca oleracea grown in the incubator in Huddersfield laboratory
238
Appendix (12)
239
Names and pictures of some investigated plants in the present study.
Prosopis cineraria
Calotropis procera
Euphorbia Larica
Prosopis juliflora
Cyperus conglomerates
Tamarix aucheriana
Portulaca oleracea
Atriplex halimus
Bougainvillea spinosa
Iresine herbestii
Pennisetum setaceum
240
Azadirachta indica
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