Characterization of biomass sorghum for copper phytoremediation: photosynthetic response and possibility as a bioenergy feedstock from contaminated land

  • Letícia Rigonato Lima
  • Higor Ferreira Silva
  • Alcindo Souza Brignoni
  • Fabiano Guimarães Silva
  • Liliane Santos Camargos
  • Lucas Anjos SouzaEmail author
Research Article


In order to decrease the concentration of toxic metals in contaminated lands, phytoextraction can be suitable considering the use of plant species with high potential for biomass production, such as biomass sorghum (Sorghum bicolor L.). We assessed a biomass sorghum (BRS716) potential as a copper phytoextractor as well as the physiological stability under this stressful condition. A completely randomized experimental design was used for a greenhouse experiment in which sorghum plants were submitted to a range of Cu2+ concentrations: 2.3, 10.9, 19.6, 30.5, 37.6 and 55.6 mg dm−3. The plant growth was not affected by increasing Cu2+ concentrations, suggesting that this species is tolerant to copper. There was a decrease in photosynthetic rate according to the increase in Cu2+ concentration, but not at a level that could disturb plant metabolism and eventual death. The values obtained for transfer index ranged from 0.62 to 0.11 which evidenced the restriction of Cu2+ transport to the aerial parts. The more Cu2+ available in soil, the smaller the amount of Cu2+ transported to aerial parts of sorghum. So, our results show that biomass sorghum has potential to be used for Cu2+ phytoextraction in concentration of up to 20 mg dm−3. Also, in heavily Cu2+ polluted sites, it can be used to produce biomass for bioenergy purpose, promoting a low rate of Cu2+ extraction.


Bioenergy Environmental protection Toxic metals Plant production Clean technology Photosynthesis 



The authors acknowledge: Dr. Rafael Augusto Costa Parrella to kindly give biomass sorghum BRS-716 seeds; FAPESP for the following Grant (2015/09567-9); IF Goiano, FEIS-UNESP, FAPEG, CNPq and CAPES for general fundings to institutions.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Prof. H.S. Srivastava Foundation for Science and Society 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Instituto Federal de EducaçãoCiência e Tecnologia Goiano – Campus Rio VerdeRio VerdeBrazil
  2. 2.Faculdade de Engenharia, Departamento de Biologia e Zootecnia, Laboratório de Fisiologia do Metabolismo VegetalUniversidade Estadual Paulista (UNESP)Ilha SolteiraBrazil
  3. 3.Instituto Federal de EducaçãoCiência e Tecnologia Goiano – Campus Rio Verde – Polo de Inovação em Bioenergia e GrãosRio VerdeBrazil

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