Toxicity Assessment of Two Soils from Jales Mine (Portugal) Using Plants: Growth and Biochemical Parameters

  • Susana Loureiro
  • Conceição Santos
  • Glória Pinto
  • Armando Costa
  • Marta Monteiro
  • António J. A. Nogueira
  • Amadeu M. V. M. Soares


Contaminants in soils can enter food chains through primary producers. Bioavailable contaminants can induce growth, and reproductive or biochemical changes in plants. To evaluate the bioavailability of heavy metals in two soils from Jales mine surroundings, bioassays with the plants Brassica rapa (RCBr) and Avena sativa were performed. Biochemical parameters (protein and malondialdehyde [MDA] content, and catalase and peroxidase activities) were also measured. The soils had different heavy metal contents: JNC soil contained low heavy metal concentrations, whereas JC soil had high heavy metal contents. Results stressed the difference between species sensitivity, with A. sativa showing no toxicity effects when exposed to both soils. On the other hand, B. rapa presented a decrease in growth parameters when exposed to JNC soil and no changes when exposed to JC soil. A Life Cycle Bioassay confirmed this trend for B. rapa exposed to JNC soil, but also evidenced that JC soil was affecting B. rapa in terms of flower and seed pod production. Biochemical assays showed that plants affected by heavy metals also displayed oxidative stress, with an increase in MDA production, reduction of protein content, and reduction of catalase and peroxidase activities. All bioassays revealed that JNC soil, although with a lower heavy metal content, had a higher bioavailable fraction when compared to JC soil, which consequently increased its toxicity to plants.


Relative Growth Rate Control Soil Seed Emergence Mine Spoil Abandoned Mine 



The authors would like to thank Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia, for providing PhD grants to Susana Loureiro, Marta Monteiro, and Glória Pinto, and through the Research Grant Project ERAS (REF. POTI-MGS-34782-2000).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Susana Loureiro
    • 1
  • Conceição Santos
    • 1
  • Glória Pinto
    • 1
  • Armando Costa
    • 1
  • Marta Monteiro
    • 1
  • António J. A. Nogueira
    • 1
  • Amadeu M. V. M. Soares
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity of AveiroAveiroPortugal

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