Plant and Soil

, Volume 338, Issue 1–2, pp 423–434 | Cite as

Soil solution dynamics and plant uptake of cadmium and zinc by durum wheat following phosphate fertilization

  • Xiaopeng Gao
  • Donald N. Flaten
  • Mario Tenuta
  • Mark G. Grimmett
  • Eugene J. Gawalko
  • Cynthia A. GrantEmail author
Regular Article


A growth chamber study was conducted to evaluate the effect of application of phosphate fertilizer on soil solution dynamics of cadmium (Cd) and Cd accumulation in durum wheat (Triticum turgidum L. var. durum). Treatments consisted of three phosphate fertilizer sources containing 3.4, 75.2, and 232 mg Cd kg−1 applied at three rates (20, 40 and 80 mg P kg−1) plus a no fertilization control. An unplanted treatment at 40 mg P kg−1 was included to separate the effects on soil solution Cd dynamics of the crop from that of the fertilizer. Soil solution samples were obtained using soil moisture samplers every 10 days after germination. The experimental results indicated that plant biomass significantly increased with P application rates and decreased with increased Cd concentration in the phosphate fertilizers. Total cadmium concentration in soil solution was not consistently affected by phosphate fertilization rate and fertilizer sources, and therefore Cd concentration in the fertilizer. Application of phosphate fertilizer, however, increased the concentration and accumulation of Cd and shoot Cd/Zn ratio, and decreased shoot Zn concentration in durum wheat. Phosphate sources had a marginally significant effect (P = 0.05) on shoot Cd concentration and did not affect Cd accumulation in durum wheat. Concentration of Cd in soil solution was unrelated to Cd concentration in durum wheat. These results suggest that the immediate increase in Cd concentration and Cd accumulation in durum wheat with phosphate application is due more to competition between Zn and Cd for absorption into plants, enhanced root to shoot translocation and enhanced root development, than to a direct addition effect from Cd contained in phosphate fertilizer. In the short term, application of phosphate fertilizers can increase Cd concentration in the crops, regardless of the Cd concentration of the fertilizer. An optimal P fertilization, possibly in combination with Zn application, may offer an important strategy for decreasing Cd concentration and accumulation in crops.


Cadmium Cd/Zn ratio Durum wheat Phosphate Soil solution Zinc 



The authors gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) of Canada, Metals in the Human Environment (MITHE) Research Network and the Canada Research Chair Program in Applied Soil Ecology. The technical assistance of Josh Price is greatly appreciated.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xiaopeng Gao
    • 1
    • 2
  • Donald N. Flaten
    • 1
  • Mario Tenuta
    • 1
  • Mark G. Grimmett
    • 3
  • Eugene J. Gawalko
    • 4
  • Cynthia A. Grant
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Soil ScienceUniversity of ManitobaWinnipegCanada
  2. 2.Agriculture and Agri-Food CanadaBrandon Research CentreBrandonCanada
  3. 3.Agriculture and Agri-Food CanadaCrops and Livestock Research CentreCharlottetownCanada
  4. 4.Canadian Grains CommissionWinnipegCanada

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