Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 18, Issue 7, pp 1234–1242 | Cite as

Physiological parameters of plants as indicators of water quality in a constructed wetland

  • Oren Shelef
  • Avi Golan-Goldhirsh
  • Tanya Gendler
  • Shimon RachmilevitchEmail author
Research Article



Increasing demand for water has stimulated efforts to treat wastewater for reuse in agriculture. Decentralized facilities for wastewater treatment became popular as a solution to remote and small communities. These systems mimic natural wetlands, cleaning wastewater as they flow through a complex of filter media, microbial fauna, and vegetation. The function of plants in constructed wetlands (CWs) has not been fully elucidated yet.


In the research reported here, we provide evidence for a new use of plant physiological parameters in CWs as bioindicators of water quality along the system. We measured improved plant performance downstream of the CW by means of photochemical efficiency, CO2 assimilation rate, and cell membrane stability. In addition, we found evidence for temporal improvement of plant performance, which was correlated to the establishment phase of plants in a newly operating CW. It is suggested that improved monitoring and management of CWs should take into planning consideration the promising potential of phyto-indicators.


Constructed wetland Phyto-indicators Photochemical efficiency Plant performance Assimilation rate Cell membrane stability 



The Southern Arava Sustainable Waste Management Plan was funded by the EU LIFE Fund. The CW were planned and designed by Eli Cohen—Ayala Water and Ecology and Yael Ben Zvi of Ofra Aqua Plants, landscape design and construction by Kibbutz Neot Smadar. We wish to thank Kibbutz Neot Smadar and staff for the opportunity to make this research.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Oren Shelef
    • 1
  • Avi Golan-Goldhirsh
    • 1
  • Tanya Gendler
    • 1
  • Shimon Rachmilevitch
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.French Associates Institute for Agriculture & Biotechnology of Drylands, The Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research (BIDR)Ben-Gurion University of the NegevMidreshet Ben-GurionIsrael

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