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Effects of copper sulfate on growth and physiological responses of Limoniastrum monopetalum

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A glasshouse study of the coastal shrub Limoniastrum monopetalum was carried out to evaluate its tolerance and capacity to accumulate copper. We investigate the effects of Cu from 0 to 60 mmol l−1 on the growth, photosynthetic apparatus, and nutrient uptake of L. monopetalum, by measuring gas exchange, chlorophyll fluorescence parameters, photosynthetic pigments, and total copper, nitrogen, phosphorus, sulfur, calcium, and magnesium content in the plant tissues. Although L. monopetalum did not survive at 60 mmol l−1 Cu, the species demonstrated a high tolerance to Cu-induced stress, since all plants survived external Cu concentrations of up to 35 mmol l−1 and displayed similar growth in the Cu-enriched medium as in the control treatment of up to the external level of 15 mmol Cu l−1 (1,000 mg Cu l−1). The reduced growth registered in plants exposed to 35 mmol Cu l−1 can be attributed to reduced photosynthetic carbon assimilation associated with the adverse effect of the metal on the photochemical apparatus and a reduction in the absorption of essential nutrients. Copper tolerance was associated with the capacity of the plant to accumulate the metal in its roots and effectively prevent its translocation to photosynthetic tissues. L. monopetalum has the characteristics of a Cu-excluder plant and could be used in the revegetation of Cu-contaminated soils.

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Fig. 1
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Fig. 4
Fig. 5


A :

Net photosynthetic rate

Chl a :

Chlorophyll a

Chl b :

Chlorophyll b

C i :

Intercellular CO2 concentration

Cx + c :


F 0 :

Minimal fluorescence level in the dark-adapted state

F m :

Maximal fluorescence level in the dark-adapted state

F s :

Steady state fluorescence yield

F v :

Variable fluorescence level in the dark-adapted state

F v/F m :

Maximum quantum efficiency of PSII photochemistry


Quantum efficiency of PSII


Stomatal conductance


Non-photochemical quenching


Relative growth rate


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We thank the University of Seville for a research contract (IV Plan Propio de Investigación, research projects ref. 5/2012) and the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation (project CTM2008-04453). We are also grateful to Mr. K. MacMillan for revision of the English version of the manuscript, the Seville University Glasshouse General Service for their collaboration, and the two anonymous referees for valuable comments and suggestions on a previous draft of this paper.

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Correspondence to J. Cambrollé.

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Responsible editor: Elena Maestri

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Cambrollé, J., Mancilla-Leytón, J.M., Muñoz-Vallés, S. et al. Effects of copper sulfate on growth and physiological responses of Limoniastrum monopetalum . Environ Sci Pollut Res 20, 8839–8847 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-013-1833-4

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  • Copper
  • Growth
  • Limoniastrum monopetalum
  • Photosynthesis
  • Phytoremediation
  • Tolerance