Acta Physiologiae Plantarum

, Volume 34, Issue 3, pp 1217–1228 | Cite as

Accumulation and toxic effects of chromium and zinc in Iris pseudacorus L.

  • C. CaldelasEmail author
  • J. L. Araus
  • A. Febrero
  • J. Bort
Original Paper


The aim of the present study was to examine the ability of I. pseudacorus L., an ornamental macrophyte of great potential for phytoremediation, to tolerate and accumulate Cr and Zn. Plants were grown in nutritive solution with ZnCl2 or CrCl3·6H2O at 0, 10, 50, 100, and 200 μg ml−1 for 5 weeks; all survived and continued growing. The accumulation of Cr and Zn increased with increasing supply in all plant tissues, to reach 59.97 mg Cr and 25.64 mg Zn in roots. Leaves retained a remarkable amount of Zn (14.2 mg). Growth inhibition reached 65% and 31% (dry weight) in response to Cr and Zn, respectively. The root:shoot dry matter partitioning (R/S) increased 80% at 100 μg ml−1 CrCl3. The most marked alterations in mineral content were in roots, where both metals decreased Al, Ca, Mg, Mn and S, and increased P concentration. No effect was noted on either leaf chlorophyll fluorescence kinetics (F v /F m and ΦPSII), or photosynthetic pigment content, signifying that the light phase of photosynthesis was not impaired. Carbon isotope composition (δ13C) was only slightly heavier, indicating that the reduction of carbon fixation was not the main cause for growth decrease. This was attributed to the restricted mineral uptake and to the increased demand of carbohydrates of damaged roots. Biomass allocation to rhizomes (Cr) or roots (Zn) contributes to heavy metal tolerance by limiting transpiration and increasing metal–storing tissues and the surface for water and cation uptake. This species is a good candidate for Cr rhizofiltration and Zn phytoextraction.


Heavy metal Abiotic stress Toxicity Phytoremediation Macrophyte Isotope 



This study was part of the International Cooperation European Project MEDINDUS, EC Contract No INCO-CT-2004-509159. Experiments were conducted in the experimental field services (Servei de Camps Experimentals) of the Universitat de Barcelona. Sample digestion and determination of element content were performed in the technical services (Serveis Científicotècnics) of the Universitat de Barcelona. We wish to thank their personnel for their collaboration and advice.


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Copyright information

© Franciszek Górski Institute of Plant Physiology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Kraków 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. Caldelas
    • 1
    Email author
  • J. L. Araus
    • 1
  • A. Febrero
    • 1
  • J. Bort
    • 1
  1. 1.Unit of Plant Physiology, Department of Plant Biology, Faculty of BiologyUniversity of BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain

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