Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 18, Issue 6, pp 997–1003 | Cite as

Development of a model to select plants with optimum metal phytoextraction potential

  • Sebastián D. Guala
  • Flora A. Vega
  • Emma F. Covelo
Research Article



The aim of the present study is to propose a nonlinear model which provides an indicator for the maximum phytoextraction of metals to help in the decision-making process. Research into different species and strategies plays an important role in the application of phytoextraction techniques to the remediation of contaminated soil. Also, the convenience of species according to their biomass and pollutant accumulation capacities has gained important space in discussions regarding remediation strategies, whether to choose species with low accumulation capacities and high biomass or high accumulation capacities with low biomass.


The effects of heavy metals in soil on plant growth are studied by means of a nonlinear interaction model which relates the dynamics of the uptake of heavy metals by plants to heavy metal deposed in soil.


The model, presented theoretically, provides an indicator for the maximum phytoextraction of metals which depends on adjustable parameters of both the plant and the environmental conditions. Finally, in order to clarify its applicability, a series of experimental results found in the literature are presented to show how the model performs consistently with real data.


The inhibition of plant growth due to heavy metal concentration can be predicted by a simple kinetic model. The model proposed in this study makes it possible to characterize the nonlinear behaviour of the soil–plant interaction with heavy metal pollution in order to establish maximum uptake values for heavy metals in the harvestable part of plants.


Soil pollution Metals Phytoremediation Phytoextraction Plant selection, modelling 



This study was supported by the Xunta de Galicia in partnership with the University of Vigo through a Parga Pondal and Ángeles Alvariño contract awarded to E.F. Covelo and F.A. Vega, respectively.


  1. Adriano DC (1986) Trace elements in the terrestrial environment. Springer, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  2. Aggarwal H, Goyal D (2007) Phytoremediation of some heavy metals by agronomic crops. Develop Environ Sci 5:79–98CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Athar R, Ahmad M (2002) Heavy metal toxicity: effect on plant growth and metal uptake by wheat, and on free living Azotobacter. Water Air Soil Poll 138:165–180CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Baker AJM (2002) The use of tolerant plants and hyperaccumulators. In: Wong MH, Bradshaw AD (eds) Restoration and management of derelict lands: modern approaches. World ScientiWc Publishing, Singapore, pp 138–148Google Scholar
  5. Baker AJM, Brooks RR (1989) Terrestrial higher plants which hyperaccumulate elements—a review of their distribution, ecology and phytochemistry. Biorecovery 1:81–126Google Scholar
  6. Benzarti S, Mohri S, Ono Y (2008) Plant response to heavy metal toxicity: comparative study between the hyperaccumulator Thlaspi caerulescens (Ecotype Ganges) and nonaccumulator plants: lettuce, radish, and alfalfa. Environ Toxicol 23(5):607–616CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Blaylock MJ, Huang JW (2000) Phytoextraction of metals. In: Raskin I, Ensley BD (eds) Phytoremediation of toxic metals: using plants to clean up the environment. Wiley, New York, pp 53–70Google Scholar
  8. Brooks RR (1977) Copper and cobalt uptake by Haumaniastrum species. Plant Soil 48:541–544CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Brown SL, Chaney RL, Angle JS, Baker AJM (1995) Zinc and cadmium uptake of Thlaspi caerulescens grown in nutrient solution. Soil Sci Soc Am J 59:125–133CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Chaney RL (1983) Plant uptake of inorganic waste constitutes. In: Parr JF, Marsh PB, Kla JM (eds) Land treatment of hazardous wastes. Noyes Data Corp, Park Ridge, NJ, pp 50–76Google Scholar
  11. Chaney RL, Malik M, Li YM, Brown SL, Brewer EP, Angle JS, Baker AJM (1997) Phytoremediation of soil metals. Curr Opin Biotechnol 8:279–284CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Chaney RL, Angle JS, Broadhurst CL, Peters CA, Tappero RV, Sparks DL (2007) Improved understanding of hyperaccumulation yields commercial phytoextraction and phytomining technologies. J Environ Qual 36:1429–1433CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. De Leo G, Delfuria L, Gatto M (1993) The interaction between soil acidity and forest dynamics: a simple model exhibiting catastrophic behaviour. Theor Popul Biol 43:31–51CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Garbisu C, Alkorta I (2001) Phytoextraction: a cost-effective plant-based technology for the removal of metals from the environment. Bioresour Technol 77:229–236CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Garbisu C, Hernandez-Allica J, Barrutia O, Alkorta I, Becerril JM (2002) Phytoremediation: a technology using green plants to remove contaminants from polluted areas. Rev Environ Health 17:75–90CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Ghosh M, Singh SP (2005a) A review on phytoremediation of heavy metals and utilization of its byproducts. Appl Ecol Environ Res 3:1–18Google Scholar
  17. Ghosh M, Singh SP (2005b) Comparative uptake and phytoextraction study of soil induced chromium by accumulator and high biomass weed species. Appl Ecol Environ Res 3:67–79Google Scholar
  18. Ghosh M, Singh SP (2005c) A comparative study of cadmium phytoextraction by accumulator and weed species. Environ Pollut 133:365–371CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Guala SD, Vega FA, Covelo EF (2009) Modification of a soil–vegetation nonlinear interaction model with acid deposition for simplified experimental applicability. Ecol Model 220:2137–2141CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Guala SD, Vega FA, Covelo EF (2010a) The dinamics of heavy metals in plant–soil interaction. Ecol Model 221:1148–1152CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Guala SD, Vega FA, Covelo EF (2010b) Heavy metal concentrations in plants and different harvestable parts: a soil–plant equilibrium model. Environ Pollut 158:2659–2663CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hartman WJ Jr (1975) An evaluation of land treatment of municipal wastewater and physical citing of facility installations. US Department of Army, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  23. Hutchinson TC, Bozic L, Muñoz Vega G (1986) Response of five species of conifer seedlings to aluminum stress. Water Air Soil Pollut 31:283–294CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Jiang LY, Yang XE, He ZL (2004) Growth response and phytoextraction of copper at different levels in soils by Elsholtzia splendens. Chemosphere 55:1179–1187CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Li YM, Chaney RL, Angle JS, Baker AJM (2000) Phytoremediation of heavy metal contaminated soils. In: Wise DL, Trantolo DJ, Cichon EJ, Inyang HI, Stottmeister U (eds) Bioremediation of contaminated soils. New York, Marcel Dekker, pp 837–857Google Scholar
  26. Liang HM, Lin TH, Chiou JM, Yeh KC (2009) Model evaluation of the phytoextraction potential of heavy metal hyperaccumulators and non-hyperaccumulators. Environ Pollut 157(6):1945–1952. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2008.11.052 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Lindsay W (1979) Chemical equilibria in soils. Wiley, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  28. McGrath SP, Zhao FJ (2003) Phytoextraction of metals and metalloids from contaminated soils. Curr Opin Biotechnol 14:277–282CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Padmavathiamma P, Li L (2007) Phytoremediation technology: hyper-accumulation metals in plants. Water Air Soil Pollut 184:105–126CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Poulik Z (1997) The danger of cumulation of nickel in cereals on contaminated soil. Agr Ecosyst Environ 63:25–29CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Prasad MNV, Freitas HMO (2003) Metal hyperaccumulation in plants—biodiversity prospecting for phytoremediation technology. Electron J Biotechnol 6:285–321CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Raskin I, Smith RD, Salt DE (1997) Phytoremediation of metals: using plants to remove pollutants from the environment. Curr Opin Biotechnol 8:221–226CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Reeves RD, Baker AJM (2000) Metal-accumulating plants. In: Raskin I, Ensley BD (eds) Phytoremediation of toxic metals: using plants to clean up the environment. Wiley, New York, pp 193–230Google Scholar
  34. Salt DE, Smith RD, Raskin I (1998) Phytoremediation. Annu Rev Plant Physiol 49:643–668CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Shah K, Nongkynrih JM (2007) Metal hyperaccumulation and bioremediation. Biol Plantarum 51:618–634CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Ulrich B, Pankrath J (1983) Effects of accumulation of air pollutants in forest ecosystems. Reidel, Dordrecht, NetherlandsGoogle Scholar
  37. Ulrich B, Mayer R, Khanna PK (1980) Chemical changes due to acid precipitation in a loess derived soil in Central Europe. Soil Sci 130:193–199CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Van Herreweghe S, Swennen R, Cappuyns V, Vandecasteele C (2002) Chemical associations of heavy metals and metalloids in contaminated soils near former ore treatment plants: a differentiated approach with emphasis on pHstat-leaching. J Geochem Explor 76:113–138CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Vassilev A, Schwitzguébel JP, Thewys T, van der Lelie D, Vangronsveld J (2004) The use of plants for remediation of metal-contaminated soils. TheScientificWorldJOURNAL 4:9–34Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sebastián D. Guala
    • 2
  • Flora A. Vega
    • 1
  • Emma F. Covelo
    • 1
  1. 1.Departamento de Bioloxía Vexetal e Ciencia do Solo, Facultade de BioloxiaUniversidade de VigoVigoSpain
  2. 2.Universidad Nacional de General SarmientoLos PolvorinesArgentina

Personalised recommendations