Environmental Chemistry Letters

, Volume 10, Issue 4, pp 377–381 | Cite as

Efficient phytoremediation of uranium mine tailings by tobacco

  • Mirjana D. Stojanović
  • Marija L. MihajlovićEmail author
  • Jelena V. Milojković
  • Zorica R. Lopičić
  • Milan Adamović
  • Slavka Stanković
Original Paper


This investigation shows that tobacco plant roots and leaves accumulate 60 times more uranium than previously reported. Phytoremediation is a convenient technique to clean up polluted soils using herbaceous plants and trees. Increasing research aims to identify novel plant species that accumulate toxic metals. Tobacco plant (Nicotiana tabacum L.) is a promising cultivar for phytoremediation because tobacco is fast growing and easily propagated. Here, we study phytoremediation of uranium by two tobacco varieties Virginia and Burley, bred in natural conditions. Plants were grown on uranium mine tailings with an average uranium content of 15.3 mg kg−1. Each shoot sample was cross-sectioned into five uniform groups of leaves and stem segments. Results show a substantial variance in uranium uptake according to the section elderliness and origin of the plant parts. The highest concentrations of uranium values recorded in leaves of Burleys and Virginias nearest root shoot sections were 4.18 and 3.50 mg kg−1, respectively. These values are 60 times higher rates than those previously published for leaves of cultivars grown under similar conditions. Taking into account the level of soil contamination, the content of accumulated uranium demonstrates uranium hyperaccumulatory properties of tobacco plant and its potential utilization in phytoremediation of uranium-contaminated mediums.


Uranium Uptake Tobacco plant Varieties Hyperaccumulators Phytoremediation 



This study is a part of the project TR31003 supported by the Ministry of Science and Technological Development of the Republic of Serbia.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mirjana D. Stojanović
    • 1
  • Marija L. Mihajlović
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jelena V. Milojković
    • 1
  • Zorica R. Lopičić
    • 1
  • Milan Adamović
    • 1
  • Slavka Stanković
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute for Technology of Nuclear and Other Mineral Raw MaterialsBelgradeSerbia
  2. 2.Faculty of Technology and MetallurgyUniversity of BelgradeBelgradeSerbia

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