Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 22, Issue 15, pp 11478–11487 | Cite as

Evaluation of the ability of black nightshade Solanum nigrum L. for phytoremediation of thallium-contaminated soil

  • Qihang Wu
  • Jonathan Y. S. LeungEmail author
  • Xuexia Huang
  • Bo Yao
  • Xin Yuan
  • Jianhao Ma
  • Shijia Guo
Research Article


Thallium (Tl) pollution in agricultural areas can pose hidden danger to humans, as food consumption is the key exposure pathway of Tl. Owing to the extreme toxicity of Tl, removal of Tl from soil becomes necessary to minimize the Tl-related health effects. Phytoremediation is a cost-effective method to remove heavy metals from soil, but not all plants are appropriate for this purpose. Here, the ability of Solanum nigrum L., commonly known as black nightshade, to remediate Tl-contaminated soil was evaluated. The accumulation of Tl in different organs of S. nigrum was measured under both field and greenhouse conditions. Additionally, the growth and maximal quantum efficiency of photosystem II (Fv/Fm) under different Tl concentrations (1, 5, 10, 15, and 20 mg kg−1) were examined after 4-month pot culture. Under both field and greenhouse conditions, Tl accumulated in S. nigrum was positively correlated with Tl concentration in the soil. Thallium mostly accumulated in the root, and bioconcentration factor was greater than 1, indicating the good capability of S. nigrum to extract Tl. Nonetheless, the growth and Fv/Fm of S. nigrum were reduced at high Tl concentration (>10 mg kg−1). Given the good tolerance, fast growth, high accumulation, and global distribution, we propose that S. nigrum is a competent candidate to remediate moderately Tl-contaminated soil (<10 mg kg−1) without causing far-reaching ecological consequences.


Accumulation Phytoremediation Solanum nigrum Thallium Translocation 



This project was supported by the Guangzhou Municipal Colleges and Universities Science and Technology Project (No. 10A064), the Open Fund of Key Laboratory of Water Quality Safety and Protection in Pearl River Delta (No. GZ201102), and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Nos. 41203058 and 41301348).

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Ethical statement

The sources of funding are shown in the “Acknowledgments” section. This study neither involves human participants nor animals.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Qihang Wu
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jonathan Y. S. Leung
    • 3
    Email author
  • Xuexia Huang
    • 1
  • Bo Yao
    • 1
  • Xin Yuan
    • 4
  • Jianhao Ma
    • 1
  • Shijia Guo
    • 1
  1. 1.Collaborative Innovation Center of Water Quality Safety and Protection in Pearl River DeltaGuangzhou UniversityGuangzhouChina
  2. 2.Key Laboratory of Water Quality Safety and Protection in Pearl River Delta, Ministry of EducationGuangzhou UniversityGuangzhouChina
  3. 3.School of Biological SciencesThe University of AdelaideAdelaideAustralia
  4. 4.Impact Environmental Consulting Inc.BohemiaUSA

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