Evaluation of Vetiver Grass Uptake Efficiency in Single and Mixed Heavy Metal Contaminated Soil

  • Chuck Chuan NgEmail author
  • Amru Nasrulhaq Boyce
  • Mhd Radzi Abas
  • Noor Zalina Mahmood
  • Fengxiang Han
Original Article


Most phyto-remediation studies have been conducted merely on a single type of contaminant element without consideration of the influence of other co-existent contaminants. In this study, Vetiveria zizanioides (Linn.) Nash was evaluated in both single and mixed heavy metal (Cd, Pb, Cu and Zn) spiked contaminated soil. The plant growth, metal accumulation and overall efficiency of metal uptake by different plant parts (lower root, upper root, lower tiller and upper tiller) were investigated in detail. The relative growth performance, metal tolerance and phyto-assessment of heavy metal in roots and tillers of Vetiver grass were assessed. Metals in plants were measured using the flame atomic absorption spectrometry (F-AAS) after acid digestion. The root-tiller (R/T) ratio, tolerance index (TI), translocation factor (TF), biological concentration factor (BCF), biological accumulation coefficient (BAC) and metal uptake efficacy were estimated to examine the ability of metal accumulation and translocation in Vetiver grass. No significant difference (p > 0.05) of plant height was observed among all single and mixed heavy metal spiked soils compared with the control. However, significantly higher (p < 0.05) heavy metal (Cd, Pb, Cu and Zn) accumulations were found in roots, tillers and overall total accumulation of the individual spiked metal as compared with other treatments. Vetiver grass grown in the mixed Cd + Pb + Cu + Zn spiked soils accumulated the highest Zn (3322 ± 21.6 mg/kg) followed by Cu (430 ± 11.4 mg/kg), Pb (197 ± 13.5 mg/kg) and Cd (100 ± 0.7 mg/kg). Vetiver grass grown in mixed Cd + Pb, Cu + Zn and Cd + Pb + Cu + Zn spiked soils accumulated higher heavy metal concentrations than from the single spiked soil with the following order of metals: Zn > > Cu > Pb > Cd. Moreover, lower roots and lower tillers of Vetiver grass revealed a strong tendency for greater uptake and accumulation of all four heavy metals in both single and/or mixed spiked contaminated soils.


Mixed heavy metal Vetiver grass Lower root Upper root Lower tiller Upper tiller Contaminated soil Heavy metal accumulation 


Funding Information

This research was supported by the funding provided by the University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur (PG006-2013A and RK001–2016) and the Malaysia Toray Science Foundation (STRG15/G251) grants.


  1. Aibibu N, Liu Y, Zeng G, Wang X, Chen B, Song H, Xu L (2010) Cadmium accumulation in Vetiveria zizanioides and its effects on growth, physiological and biochemical characters. Bioresour Technol 101:6297–6303CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ali H, Khan E, Sajad MA (2013) Phytoremediation of heavy metals - concepts and applications. Chemosphere 91:869–881CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Ali H, Khan E (2017) Environmental chemistry in the twenty-first century. Environ Chem Lett 15:329–346CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Ali H, Khan E (2018a) What are heavy metals? Long-standing controversy over the scientific use of the term ‘heavy metals’: proposal of a comprehensive definition. Toxicol Environ Chem 100:6–19CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Ali H, Khan E (2018b) Trophic transfer, bioaccumulation, and biomagnification of non-essential hazardous heavy metals and metalloids in food chains/webs:concepts and implications for wildlife and human health. Hum Ecol Risk Assess:1–24Google Scholar
  6. Ali H, Khan E, Ilahi I (2019) Environmental chemistry and ecotoxicology of hazardous heavy metals: environmental persistence, toxicity, and bioaccumulation. Aust J Chem 2019:6730305Google Scholar
  7. Alloway BJ (2013) Sources of heavy metals and metalloids in soils. In: Heavy metals in soils, Springer, Netherlands, pp 11–50Google Scholar
  8. An YJ, Kim YM, Kwon TI, Jeong SW (2004) Combined effect of copper, cadmium, and lead upon Cucumis sativus growth and bioaccumulation. Sci Total Environ 326:85–93CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Antonovics J, Bradshaw AD, Turner RG (1971) Heavy metal tolerance in plants. Adv Ecol Res 7:1–85CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Azam MM (2016) Soil contamination and remediation measures: revisiting the relevant laws and institutions. In: Environmental remediation technologies for metal-contaminated soils. Springer, Tokyo, pp 99–124. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Berti WR, Cunningham SD (2000) Phytostabilization of metals. In: Raskin I, Ensley BD (eds), Phytoremediation of Toxic Metals: Using Plants to Clean-up the Environment, John Wiley and Sons, New York, pp 71–88Google Scholar
  12. Bradl H (ed) (2005) Heavy Metals in the Environment: Origin, Interaction and Remediation, Vol 6. Academic Press, Amsterdam, p 282.
  13. Brümmer GW (1986) Heavy Metal Species, Mobility and Availability in Soils. Springer, Berlin Heidelberg, pp 169–192CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. CCME, Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (1999) Canadian soil quality guidelines for the protection of environmental and human health. Canadian Environmental Quality Guidelines, CanadaGoogle Scholar
  15. Chen Y, Shen Z, Li X (2004) The use of vetiver grass (Vetiveria zizanioides) in the phytoremediation of soils contaminated with heavy metals. Appl Geochem 19:1553–1565CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Chigbo C, Batty L (2015) Chelate-assisted phytoremediation of cu-pyrene-contaminated soil using Z. mays. Water, Air, Soil Pollut 226:1–10CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Chirakkara RA, Cameselle C, Reddy KR (2016) Assessing the applicability of phytoremediation of soils with mixed organic and heavy metal contaminants. Rev Environ Sci Biotechnol 15:299–326CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Chiu KK, Ye ZH, Wong MH (2006) Growth of Vetiveria zizanioides and Phragmities australis on Pb/Zn and cu mine tailings amended with manure compost and sewage sludge: a greenhouse study. Bioresour Technol 97:158–170CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Christofilopoulos S, Syranidou E, Gkavrou G, Manousaki E, Kalogerakis N (2016) The role of halophyte Juncus acutus L. in the remediation of mixed contamination in a hydroponic greenhouse experiment. J Chem Technol Biotechnol 91:1665–1674CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Clemens S, Ma JF (2016) Toxic heavy metal and metalloid accumulation in crop plants and foods. Annu Rev Plant Biol 67:489–512CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Danh LT, Truong P, Mammucari R, Tran T, Foster N (2009) Vetiver grass, Vetiveria zizanioides: a choice plant for phytoremediation of heavy metals and organic wastes. Int J Phytorem 11:664–691CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Darajeh N, Truong P, Rezania S, Alizadeh H, Leung DW (2019) Effectiveness of Vetiver grass versus other plants for phytoremediation of contaminated water. J Environ Treat Tech 7:485–500Google Scholar
  23. DOE, Malaysian Department of Environment (2009) Contaminated land management and control guidelines No. 1: Malaysian recommended site screening levels for contaminated land. Department of Environment, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, PutrajayaGoogle Scholar
  24. Doran JW (2002) Soil health and global sustainability: translating science into practice. Agric Ecosyst Environ 88:119–127CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Duo LA, Lian F, Zhao SL (2010) Enhanced uptake of heavy metals in municipal solid waste compost by turfgrass following the application of EDTA. Environ Monit Assess 165:377–387CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Garbisu C, Alkorta I (2003) Basic concepts on heavy metal soil bioremediation. Eur J Miner Process Environ Prot 3:58–66Google Scholar
  27. Ghadiri S, Farpoor MH, Mehrizi MH (2018) Phytoremediation of soils polluted by heavy metals using Vetiver grass and tall fescue. Desert 23:123–132Google Scholar
  28. Gnansounou E, Alves CM, Raman JK (2017) Multiple applications of vetiver grass – a review. Int J Environ Sci 2:125–141Google Scholar
  29. Gomes HI (2012) Phytoremediation for bioenergy: challenges and opportunities. Environ Technol Rev 1:59–66CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Gómez-Sagasti MT, Epelde L, Alkorta I, Garbisu C (2016) Reflections on soil contamination research from a biologist́s point of view. Appl Soil Ecol 105:207–210CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Harris MR, Herbert SM, Smith MA (1995) Remedial treatment for contaminated land (vol 9): in-situ methods of remediation. Construction Industry Research and Information Association (CIRIA) Special Publication, LondonGoogle Scholar
  32. Hasegawa H, Rahman IMM, Rahman MA (eds) (2016) Environmental Remediation Technologies for Netal-contaminated Soils. Springer, TokyoGoogle Scholar
  33. He H, Tam NF, Yao A, Qiu R, Li WC, Ye Z (2016) Effects of alkaline and bioorganic amendments on cadmium, lead, zinc, and nutrient accumulation in brown rice and grain yield in acidic paddy fields contaminated with a mixture of heavy metals. Environ Sci Pollut Res 23:23551–23560CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Hechmi N, Aissa NB, Abdenaceur H, Jedidi N (2014) Evaluating the phytoremediation potential of Phragmites australis grown in pentachlorophenol and cadmium co-contaminated soils. Environ Sci Pollut Res 21:1304–1313CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Huang Y, Hu Y, Liu Y (2009) Heavy metal accumulation in iron plaque and growth of rice plants upon exposure to single and combined contamination by copper, cadmium and lead. Acta Ecol Sin 29:320–326CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Kabata-Pendias A (2010) Trace Elements in Soils and Plants. CRC, Boca RatonCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Kamal AKI, Islam MR, Hassan M, Ahmed F, Rahman MAT, Moniruzzaman M (2016) Bioaccumulation of trace metals in selected plants within Amin bazar landfill site, Dhaka, Bangladesh. Environ Process 3:179–194CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Khalil MA, Abdel-Lateif HM, Bayoumi BM, van Straalen NM (1996) Analysis of separate and combined effects of heavy metals on the growth of Aporrectodea caliginosa (Oligochaeta; Annelida), using the toxic unit approach. Appl Soil Ecol 4:213–219CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Lado LR, Hengl T, Reuter HI (2008) Heavy metals in European soils: a geostatistical analysis of the FOREGS geochemical database. Geoderma 148:189–199CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Mahar A, Wang P, Ali A, Awasthi MK, Lahori AH, Wang Q, Li R, Zhang Z (2016) Challenges and opportunities in the phytoremediation of heavy metals contaminated soils: a review. Ecotoxicol Environ Saf 126:111–121CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Martin S, Griswold W (2009) Human health effects of heavy metals. Environ Sci Technol Briefs Citizens 15:1–6Google Scholar
  42. Meuser H (2010) Causes of soil contamination in the urban environment. In: Meuser H (ed) Contaminated Urban Soils. Springer, Dordrecht, pp 29–94Google Scholar
  43. Nagajyoti PC, Lee KD, Sreekanth TVM (2010) Heavy metals, occurrence and toxicity for plants: a review. Environ Chem Lett 8:199–216CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Nascimento CWA, Amarasiriwardena D, Xing B (2006) Comparison of natural organic acids and synthetic chelates at enhancing phytoextraction of metals from a multi-metal contaminated soil. Environ Pollut 140:114–123CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Ng CC, Boyce AN, Rahman M, Abas R (2017) Tolerance threshold and phyto-assessment of cadmium and lead in vetiver grass, Vetiveria zizanioides (Linn.) Nash. Chiang Mai J Sci 44:1367–1378Google Scholar
  46. Ng CC, Boyce AN, Rahman MM, Abas MR, Mahmood NZ (2018) Phyto-evaluation of Cd-Pb using tropical plants in soil-leachate conditions. Air Soil Water Res 11:1–9CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Ng CC, Boyce AN, Abas MR, Mahmood NZ, Han F (2019) Phytoassessment of Vetiver grass enhanced with EDTA soil amendment grown in single and mixed heavy metal–contaminated soil. Environ Monit Assess 191:434CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Padmavathiamma PK, Li LY (2007) Phytoremediation technology: hyper-accumulation metals in plants. Water, Air, Soil Pollut 184:105–126CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Peralta-Videa JR, Gardea-Torresdey JL, Gomez E, Tiemann KJ, Parsons JG, Carrillo G (2002) Effect of mixed cadmium, copper, nickel and zinc at different pHs upon alfalfa growth and heavy metal uptake. Environ Pollut 119:291–301CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Phusantisampan T, Meeinkuirt W, Saengwilai P, Pichtel J, Chaiyarat R (2016) Phytostabilization potential of two ecotypes of Vetiveria zizanioides in cadmium-contaminated soils: greenhouse and field experiments. Environ Sci Pollut Res 23:20027–20038CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Pilbeam DJ, Barker AV (2007) Handbook of plant nutrition. CRC Press, Boca RatonGoogle Scholar
  52. Raman JK, Gnansounou E (2018) A review on bioremediation potential of vetiver grass. In Waste bioremediation, Springer, Singapore, pp 127–140Google Scholar
  53. Ramamurthy AS, Memarian R (2014) Chelate enhanced phytoremediation of soil containing a mixed contaminant. Environ Earth Sci 72:201–206CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Reddy KR (2011) Special issue on contaminant mixtures: fate, transport, and remediation. J Hazard Toxic Radioact Waste 15:128–129CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Sheoran V, Sheoran AS, Poonia P (2016) Factors affecting phytoextraction: a review. Pedosphere 26:148–166CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Stolpe C, Müller C (2016) Effects of single and combined heavy metals and their chelators on aphid performance and preferences. Environ Toxicol Chem 35:3023–3030CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Storelli MM (2008) Potential human health risks from metals (Hg, Cd, and Pb) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) via seafood consumption: estimation of target hazard quotients (THQs) and toxic equivalents (TEQs). Food Chem Toxicol 46:2782–2788CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Tangahu BV, Sheikh Abdullah SR, Basri H, Idris M, Anuar N, Mukhlisin M (2011) A review on heavy metals (As, Pb, and Hg) uptake by plants through phytoremediation. Int J Chem Eng 2011:1–31CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Truong P, Danh LT (2015) The vetiver system for improving water quality: prevention and treatment of contaminated water and land (2 ed), The Vetiver Network International, San Antonio, TX, USA.
  60. US EPA, United States of America Environmental Protection Agency (1996) Method 3050B: acid digestion of sediments, sludges and soils. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  61. US EPA, United States of America Environmental Protection Agency (2007) Method 7000B flame atomic absorption spectrophotometry. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  62. Van der Perk M (2013) Soil and Water Contamination. CRC Press, Boca RatonGoogle Scholar
  63. Waller RM (1982) Ground water and the rural homeowner. United States Geological Survey, ColoradoGoogle Scholar
  64. Wuana RA, Okieimen FE (2011) Heavy metals in contaminated soils: a review of sources, chemistry, risks and best available strategies for remediation. ISRN Ecol 2011:1–20CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Wuana RA, Eneji IS, Naku JU (2016) Single and mixed chelants-assisted phytoextraction of heavy metals in municipal waste dump soil by castor. Adv Environ Res 5:19–35CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Yang J, Tang C, Wang F, Wu Y (2016) Co-contamination of Cu and Cd in paddy fields: using periphyton to entrap heavy metals. J Hazard Mater 304:150–158CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Zhang X, Gao B, Xia H (2014) Effect of cadmium on growth, photosynthesis, mineral nutrition and metal accumulation of bana grass and vetiver grass. Ecotoxicol Environ Saf 106:102–108CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Zhou H, Zhou X, Zeng M, Liao BH, Liu L, Yang WT, Wu YM, Qiu QY, Wang YJ (2014) Effects of combined amendments on heavy metal accumulation in rice (Oryza sativa L.) planted on contaminated paddy soil. Ecotoxicol Environ Saf 101:226–232CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Science and TechnologyQuest International University PerakIpohMalaysia
  2. 2.Institute of Biological Sciences, Faculty of ScienceUniversity of MalayaKuala LumpurMalaysia
  3. 3.Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, College of Science, Engineering and TechnologyJackson State UniversityJacksonUSA
  4. 4.Chemistry Department, Faculty of ScienceUniversity of MalayaKuala LumpurMalaysia

Personalised recommendations