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An investigation of the relationships between mineral nutrition and the phytoextraction of zinc by Indian mustard (Brassica juncea Czern.)

Russell Lawrence Hamlin, University of Massachusetts Amherst


Zinc is the heavy metal occurring in the greatest concentrations in the majority of wastes in modern, industrialized communities and is a common metal found at metal-polluted sites. Phytoextraction is a plant-based remediation technology aimed at the removal of metals from contaminated sites through the use of metal-accumulating plants. Although Indian mustard (Brassica juncea Czern.) has been identified as a moderate accumulator of Zn, little is known about the Zn-phytoextraction potential of this plant and whether or not mineral nutrition could be used to improve plant growth and Zn accumulation under Zn-contaminated conditions. The objectives of this research were to determine how the Zn phytoextraction potential of B. juncea is affected by: (a) the concentration of Zn in the nutrient medium; (b) the alleviation of Zn-induced Fe deficiency; (c) the molar % ratio of NH 4+ to NO3− and (d) the concentration of N and P in the nutrient medium. The pH of nutrient solutions generally decreased with: increasing Zn supply; decreasing Fe supply; and increasing proportion of NH4+-N in nutrient solutions. The ability of B. juncea to phytoextract Zn increased with increasing Zn supply initially, but then leveled off because the increase in shoot Zn concentration was accompanied by a suppression of shoot growth. Zinc-induced Fe deficiency was found to limit the effectiveness of B. juncea to phytoextract Zn, and increased P fertility appeared to exacerbate this problem. Alleviating Fe deficiency with root applied Fe-EDDHA had a limited effect on increasing Zn phytoextraction because Zn accumulation was suppressed with increasing Fe supply. Plants concentrated more Zn in shoots and roots if plants were supplied a high proportion of NO3 −, and increasing NH4+ nutrition enhanced growth. Zinc phytoextraction was maximized if plants were supplied 90% NO3−-N and 10% NH4 +-N. Zinc accumulation in shoots increased with increasing N and P supply, but the effect of N was greater. To the extent that N was a limiting factor for growth, N additions increased plant growth, but growth was not effected by P nutrition. Increased N fertility can increase Zn phytoextraction, but the effect of P nutrition is limited.

Subject Area

Environmental science|Agronomy|Botany|Environmental engineering

Recommended Citation

Hamlin, Russell Lawrence, "An investigation of the relationships between mineral nutrition and the phytoextraction of zinc by Indian mustard (Brassica juncea Czern.)" (2002). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3056234.