Biologia Plantarum

, Volume 49, Issue 4, pp 567–576 | Cite as

Cannabis sativa L. growing on heavy metal contaminated soil: growth, cadmium uptake and photosynthesis

  • P. LingerEmail author
  • A. Ostwald
  • J. Haensler


The effects of different cadmium concentrations [17 mg(Cd) kg−1(soil) and 72 mg(Cd) kg− 1(soil)] on Cannabis sativa L. growth and photosynthesis were examined. Hemp roots showed a high tolerance to Cd, i.e. more than 800 mg(Cd) kg−1(d.m.) in roots had no major effect on hemp growth, whereas in leaves and stems concentrations of 50 – 100 mg(Cd) kg−1(d.m.) had a strong effect on plant viability and vitality. For control of heavy metal uptake and xylem loading in hemp roots, the soil pH plays a central role. Photosynthetic performance and regulation of light energy consumption were analysed using chlorophyll fluorescence analysis. Seasonal changes in photosynthetic performance were visible in control plants and plants growing on soil with 17 mg(Cd) kg−1(soil). Energy distribution in photosystem 2 is regulated in low and high energy phases that allow optimal use of light and protect photosystem 2 from overexcitation, respectively. Photosynthesis and energy dissipation were negatively influenced by 72 mg(Cd) kg−1(soil). Cd had detrimental effects on chlorophyll synthesis, water splitting apparatus, reaction centre, antenna and energy distribution of PS 2. Under moderate cadmium concentrations, i.e. 17 mg(Cd) kg−1(soil), hemp could preserve growth as well as the photosynthesis apparatus, and long-term acclimation to chronically Cd stress occurred.

Additional key words

acclimation chlorophyll fluorescence phytoextraction quenching tolerance 



atomic absorption spectroscopy

Cd1, Cd2

cadmium concentration 1, 2


dry mass


electron transport


fresh mass


photosynthetic photon flux density

PS 2

photosystem 2


proton gradient


quantum efficiency of photosystem 2


photochemical quenching


non-photochemical quenching


energy dependent quenching


quenching related to state transition


photoinhibitory quenching


fast-relaxing non-photochemical quenching


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Copyright information

© Institute of Experimental Botany, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Praha 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Physiological Chemistry of Plants, Dept. C - Mathematics and ScienceBergische University of WuppertalWuppertalGermany
  2. 2.GeobotanyHeinrich-Heine-UniversityDusseldorfGermany

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