Journal of Soils and Sediments

, Volume 15, Issue 3, pp 722–731 | Cite as

Response of two salt marsh plants to short- and long-term contamination of sediment with cadmium

  • Marta Nunes da Silva
  • Ana P. Mucha
  • A. Cristina Rocha
  • Carlos R. Gomes
  • C. Marisa R. AlmeidaEmail author
Sediments, Sec 4 • Sediment-Ecology Interactions • Research Article



This work evaluated the response of two saltmarsh plants, Juncus maritimus and Phragmites australis, to short- and long-term exposure to sediment contaminated with Cd.

Materials and methods

Plants (including roots and associated sediment) were placed in vessels in a greenhouse with tidal simulation. Vessels were spiked with Cd, with Cd solution in contact with the sediment/root plant system for 6 h. Half of the vessels were then dismantled whereas the other set was maintained for 2 months. Short-term Cd exposure (6 h) simulated a flood situation with metal in a more bioavailable form. Long-term exposure simulated what normally happens in the field after contamination, the metal being progressively incorporated into the sediment and therefore less available.

Results and discussion

Both plants were able to take up considerable amounts of Cd in their belowground tissues in a short-time period; this accumulation increasing after 2 months. P. australis displayed short-term Cd translocation, but, for J. maritimus metal, translocation was only observed in the long-term. Both J. maritimus and P. australis have the ability to promptly respond to Cd contamination, being able to cope with Cd contamination in the long-term.


Results indicate these plants can contribute to the remediation of sediment contaminated with Cd in estuarine environments, retaining metal in their belowground structures, which contributes to the recovery of moderately impacted environments.


Juncus maritimus Metal contamination Phragmites australis Phytoremediation Simulated flood situation 



Research partially supported by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) through the COMPETE-Operational Competitiveness Program and national funds through FCT, under PEst-C/MAR/LA0015/2013, (REEQ/304/QUI/2005) and PHYTOBIO (PTDC/MAR/099140/2008). Acknowledgments to Catarina Teixeira, Hugo Ribeiro, Catarina Magalhães, Paula Salgado Carla Silva, and Carolina Carli for help in the experiment assembling, vessels dismantling and samples preparation for analysis.

Supplementary material

11368_2014_1041_MOESM1_ESM.docx (917 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 916 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marta Nunes da Silva
    • 1
  • Ana P. Mucha
    • 2
  • A. Cristina Rocha
    • 1
  • Carlos R. Gomes
    • 1
  • C. Marisa R. Almeida
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.CIMAR/CIIMAR, Faculdade de CiênciasUniversidade do PortoPortoPortugal
  2. 2.CIMAR/CIIMAR–Centro Interdisciplinar de Investigação Marinha e AmbientalUniversidade do PortoPortoPortugal

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