Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 26, Issue 14, pp 13812–13817 | Cite as

Discovery and mechanism study of a novel chromium-accumulating plant, Lonicera japonica Thunb.

  • Fanxu Meng
  • Yuan GaoEmail author
  • Qingyuan Feng
Sustainable Environmental Management


Finding chromium-accumulating plants is of great interest for phytoremediation of soil contaminated by chromium (Cr). Inspired by Traditional Chinese Medicine, we examined the Cr-resistance and Cr-accumulation of Lonicera japonica Thunb. After a two-phase study using both soil and water culture, we found that L. japonica could be a novel Cr-accumulating plant, which contains an average Cr(III) content of 1297.14−1 in its leaves. The Cr enrichment factor and the Cr transport coefficient of Lonicera japonica was 5.19 and 1.79, respectively. Lonicera japonica is the fifth Cr-accumulating plant discovered worldwide, and the first Cr-accumulating woody plant ever discovered. The results support the conclusions drawn from studies of Cr-accumulating Leersia hexandra that oxalic acid production can increase Cr tolerance whereas citric acid or malic acid has no effect, suggesting that oxalic acid might be a common reason for Cr tolerance in all Cr-accumulating plants. Moreover, this study revealed that the production of anthocyanin and carotene can also increase Cr(III) tolerance, suggesting that anthocyanin and carotene might also account for Cr tolerance in Cr-accumulating plants. We believe that the discovery of Lonicera japonica as a Cr-accumulating plant will offer great opportunities in phytoremediation, and the success should be a strong sign that Traditional Chinese Medicine harbors more secrets to be uncovered with modern science.


Cr-accumulating plant Lonicera japonica Chlorophyll Anthocyanin Carotene Oxalic acid Citric acid Malic acid 



We express our sincere gratitude towards the ancient Chinese physicians, whose therapeutic application of the plant inspired us to examine it using modern science.

Funding information

This study was funded by the Fund of Shandong Provincial Key Laboratory of Water and Soil Conservation and Environmental Protection, Linyi University, No. TKF201603.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of LifeBeijing Institute of TechnologyBeijingChina
  2. 2.Shandong Provincial Key Laboratory of Water and Soil Conservation and Environmental Protection, College of Resources and EnvrionmentLinyi UniversityLinyiChina
  3. 3.Linyi Scientific Exploration LaboratoryLinyiChina
  4. 4.School of Computing Science, Simon Fraser UniversityBurnabyCanada

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