Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 22, Issue 4, pp 2416–2422 | Cite as

Response of duckweed to various concentrations of selenite

  • Špela MechoraEmail author
  • Vekoslava Stibilj
  • Mateja Germ
Wetland Systems: Ecology, Functions and Management


The uptake of Se(IV) and its effects on the physiological and biochemical characteristics of duckweed (Lemna minor L.) have been studied. Duckweed plants were cultivated in controlled conditions for 7 weeks in different concentrations of Na selenite: 0.5, 1, 2, 5 (exposed 42 days) and 10 mg Se L−1 (survived 7–21 days). The addition of 1 mg Se L−1 did not negatively affect photochemical efficiency whilst respiratory potential increased in weeks 2–4 compared to control. The addition of 1 mg Se(IV) L−1 increased the amount of chlorophyll a in weeks 3 and 4 and the amount of carotenoids in weeks 1, 3 and 5. Concentrations of 2 and 5 mg Se L−1 negatively affected photochemical efficiency in weeks 3 and 4, and increased respiratory potential in comparison to the control in weeks 1–4, whilst beyond week 4, the respiratory potential decreased. Plants exposed to the highest concentration of Se(IV) had to be replaced twice during the experiment because they were dying. That was reflected in photochemical efficiency as well as in respiratory potential, which decreased in time. The content of Se in duckweed increased with the increasing concentration of Se: plants growing in 0.5 mg Se L−1 contained 0.9 mg Se g−1 DM and plants exposed to 5 mg Se L−1 contained 5.8 mg Se g−1 DM. The group of plants exposed to 10 mg Se L−1 for 21 days contained 19.5 mg Se g−1 DM. Our study revealed that duckweed absorbed high amount of Se(IV) from the water.


Duckweed Selenite Photochemical efficiency Respiratory potential HG-AFS 



The authors are grateful to Terry Troy Jackson for a critical reading of the manuscript. This research was financed by the Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Technology of the Republic of Slovenia through the program ‘Young researchers’ (32059), ‘Biology of plants’ (P1-0212) and the projects J4-2041 and program P1-0143.


  1. Amweg EL, Stuart DL, Weston DP (2003) Comparative bioavailability of selenium to aquatic organisms after biological treatment of agricultural drainage water. Aquat Toxicol 63:13–25CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Brown TA, Shrift A (1982) Selenium—toxicity and tolerance in higher plants. Biol rev Camb philos 57:59–84CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Canton SP, Van Derveer WD (1997) Selenium toxicity to aquatic life: an argument for sediment-based water quality criteria. Environ Toxicol Chem 16:1255–1259CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Carvalho KM, Martin DF (2001) Removal of aqueous selenium by four aquatic plants. J Aquat Plant Manage 39:33–36Google Scholar
  5. Council Directive 2004/C 50/01 (70/524/EEC), List of the authorised additives in feedingstuffs published in application of Article 9 t (b) of Council Directive 70/524/EEC concerning additives in feedingstuffsGoogle Scholar
  6. Delmail D, Labrousse P, Houdrin P, Larcher L, Moesch C, Botineau M (2011) Physiological, anatomical and phenotypical effects of a cadmium stress in different-aged chlorophyllian organs of Myriophyllum alternifolium DC (Halorgaceae). Environ Exp Bot 72:174–181CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Dhote S, Dixit S (2009) Water quality improvement through macrophytes—a review. Environ Monitor Assess 152:149–153CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Fan TWM, Teh SJ, Hinton DE, Higashi RM (2002) Selenium biotransformations into proteinaceous forms by foodweb organisms of selenium-laden drainage waters in California. Aquat Toxicol 57:65–84CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Feng R, Wei C, Tu S (2013) The roles of selenium in protecting plants against abiotic stresses. Environ Exp Bot 87:58–68CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Germ M, Gaberščik A (2003) Comparison of aerial and submerged leaves in two amphibious species, Myosotis scorpioides and Ranunculus trichophyllus. Photosynthetica 41:91–96CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Hartikainen H, Xue T, Piironen V (2000) Selenium as an anti-oxidant and pro-oxidant in ryegrass. Plant Soil 225:193–200CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Kenner RA, Ahmed SI (1975) Measurements of electron transport activities in marine phytoplankton. Mar Biol 33:119–127CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Leblebici Z, Aksoy A (2011) Growth and lead accumulation capacity of Lemna minor and Spirodela polyrhyza (Lemnaceae): interactions with nutrient enrichment. Water Air Soil Pollut 214:175–184CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Lewis MA (1995) Use of freshwater plants for phytotoxicity testing: a review. Environ Pollut 87:319–336CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Lichtenthaler HK, Buschmann C (2001a) Extraction of photosynthetic tissues: chlorophylls and carotenoids. In: Wrolstad RE, Acree TE, Decker EA (eds) Current protocols in food analytical chemistry. Wiley, New York, pp F.4.2.1–4.2.6Google Scholar
  16. Lichtenthaler HK, Buschmann C (2001b) Chlorophylls and carotenoids: measurement and characterization by UV-VIS. In: Wrolstad RE, Acree TE, Decker EA (eds) Current protocols in food analytical chemistry. John Wiley & Sons Inc, New York, pp F.4.2.1–4.2.6Google Scholar
  17. Mechora Š, Cuderman P, Stibilj V, Germ M (2011) Distribution of Se and its species in Myriophyllum spicatum and Ceratophyllum demersum growing in water containing Se (VI). Chemosphere 84:1636–1641CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Mechora Š, Stibilj V, Germ M (2013) The uptake and distribution of selenium in three aquatic plants grown in Se(IV) solution. Aquat Toxicol 128–129:53–59CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Minorsky PV (2003) Selenium in plants. Plant Physiol 133:14–15CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. OECD, ISO 20079. Guideline for Testing of Chemicals, No. 221, Lemna sp. Growth Inhibition Test (2006)Google Scholar
  21. Packard TT (1971) The measurement of respiratory electron-transport activity in marine phytoplankton. J Mar Res 29:235–243Google Scholar
  22. Parra L-MM, Torres G, Arenas AD, Sánchez E, Rodríguez K (2012) Phytoremediation of low levels of heavy metals using duckweed (Lemna minor). In: Ahmad P, Prasad MNV (eds) Abiotic stress responses in plants. Springer, New York, pp 451–463CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Pollard J, Cizdziel J, Stave K, Reid M (2007) Selenium concentrations in water and plant tissues of a newly formed arid wetland in Las Vegas, Nevada. Environ Monit Assess 135:447–457CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Razinger J, Dermastia M, Dolenc Koce J, Zrimec A (2008) Oxidative stress in duckweed (Lemna minor L.) caused by short-term cadmium exposure. Environ Pollut 153:687–694CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Sappington KG (2002) Development of aquatic life criteria for selenium: a regulatory perspective on critical issues and research needs. Aquat Toxicol 57:101–113CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Schreiber U, Bilger W, Neubauer C (1995) Chlorophyll fluorescence as a nonintrusive indicator for rapid assessment of in vivo photosynthesis. In: Schulze ED, Caldwell MM (eds) Ecophysio photosynth. Springer, Berlin, pp 49–70CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Severi A (2001) Toxicity of selenium to Lemna minor in relation to sulphate concentration. Physiol Plant 113:523–532CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Sivaci ER, Sivaci A, Sökmen M (2004) Biosorption of cadmium by Myriophyllum spicatum L. and Myriophyllum tryphyllum orchard. Chemosphere 56:1043–1048CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Slovenian Regulations the Sanitary Suitability, UL RS, no. 33/01. Uradni list 65 (2002)Google Scholar
  30. Smrkolj P, Stibilj V (2004) Determination of selenium in vegetables by hydride generation atomic fluorescence spectrometry. Anal Chim Acta 512:11–17CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Smrkolj P, Germ M, Kreft I, Stibilj V (2006) Respiratory potential and Se compounds in pea (Pisum sativum L.) plants grown from Se-enriched seeds. J Exp Bot 57:3595–3600CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Terry N, Zayed AM, de Souza MP, Tarun AS (2000) Selenium in higher plants. Annu Rev Plant Physiol Plant Mol Biol 51:401–432CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Wang W (1991) Literature review on higher plants for toxicity testing. Water Air Soil Pollut 59:381–400CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Zayed A, Gowthaman S, Terry N (1998) Phytoaccumulation of trace elements by wetland plants: I. Duckweed. J Environ Qual 27:715–721CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Špela Mechora
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  • Vekoslava Stibilj
    • 2
  • Mateja Germ
    • 1
  1. 1.Biotechnical FacultyUniversity of LjubljanaLjubljanaSlovenia
  2. 2.Jožef Stefan InstituteLjubljanaSlovenia
  3. 3.Faculty of Natural Sciences and MathematicsUniversity of MariborMariborSlovenia

Personalised recommendations