, Volume 278, Issue 1-2, pp 341-349

The Effect of Copper Toxicity on the Growth and Root Morphology of Rhodes Grass (Chloris gayana Knuth.) in Resin Buffered Solution Culture

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A solution culture experiment was conducted to examine the effect of Cu toxicity on Rhodes grass (Chloris gayana Knuth.), a pasture species used in mine-site rehabilitation. The experiment used dilute, solution culture to achieve external nutrient concentrations, which were representative of the soil solution, and an ion exchange resin to maintain stable concentrations of Cu in solution. Copper toxicity was damaging to plant roots, with symptoms ranging from disruption of the root cuticle and reduced root hair proliferation, to severe deformation of root structure. A reduction in root growth was observed at an external Cu concentration of < 1 μM, with damage evident from an external concentration of 0.2 μM. Critical to the success of this experiment, in quantitatively examining the relationship between external Cu concentration and plant response, was the use of ion exchange resin to buffer the concentration of Cu in solution. After some initial difficulty with pH control, stable concentrations of Cu in solution were maintained for the major period of plant growth. The development of this technique will facilitate future investigations of the effect of heavy metals on plants.