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Minerva Biotecnologica 2001 June;13(2):141-9

Copyright © 2001 EDIZIONI MINERVA MEDICA

language: English

Metal tolerance in wetland plants?

McCabe O. M., Baldwin J. L., Otte M. L.

Wetland Ecology Research Group, Department of Botany, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin, Ireland


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Background. Metal tol­er­ance in non-wet­land ­plants may ­evolve fol­low­ing expo­sure to ele­vat­ed met­al con­cen­tra­tions, but ­this ­does not ­appear to be the ­case for wet­land ­plants. In pre­vi­ous stud­ies, no dif­fer­enc­es in met­al tol­er­ance ­were ­observed ­between pop­u­la­tions of Typha lat­i­fo­lia or Phragmites aus­tra­lis ­from met­al-con­tam­i­nat­ed and uncon­tam­i­nat­ed ­sites. In ­this ­study, ­zinc ­uptake and ­growth respons­es of pop­u­la­tions of the wet­land ­plant Glyceria flui­tans of met­al-con­tam­i­nat­ed (Glenda­lough) and uncon­tam­i­nat­ed ori­gin (Lough Dan) ­were com­pared. The ques­tion as to wheth­er or not met­al tol­er­ance is a con­stit­u­tive fea­ture of wet­land ­plants is ­addressed.
Methods. In green­house experi­ments, Glyceria flui­tans ­from Glendalough and Lough Dan ­were ­grown in (i) a ­range of ­zinc con­cen­tra­tions in ­zinc-amend­ed ­sand cul­ture and (ii) met­al ­enriched tail­ings. Growth, bio­mass and ­zinc ­uptake respons­es ­were com­pared ­between ­both pop­u­la­tions. A ­root elon­ga­tion ­test was ­also car­ried out to com­pare ­both pop­u­la­tions.
Results. When ­plants ­were ­grown on ­zinc-amend­ed ­sand cul­ture ­there was ­slight evi­dence for eco­typ­ic dif­fer­enc­es ­between pop­u­la­tions at the high­est ­zinc treat­ment ­only. There ­were no ­observed dif­fer­enc­es ­between pop­u­la­tions in the oth­er ­zinc treat­ments or ­when ­plants ­were ­grown on met­al-­enriched tail­ings. In the ­root elon­ga­tion ­test ­both pop­u­la­tions ­again ­appeared to be equal­ly tol­er­ant of ele­vat­ed ­zinc con­cen­tra­tions.
Conclusions. It ­appears ­that the pop­u­la­tions of G. flui­tans ­used in ­this ­study ­have not devel­oped ­zinc-tol­er­ant eco­types but ­have an inher­ent tol­er­ance to ­zinc. In ­light of ­this and oth­er stud­ies, met­al tol­er­ance may be a con­stit­u­tive fea­ture of wet­land ­plants.

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