Ecology, Evolution and Organismal Biology

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Chemistry and Biochemistry

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Soil lead (Pb) contamination is a major environmental and public health risk. Switch-grass (Panicum virgatum), a second-generation biofuel crop, is potentially useful for the long-term phytoremediation and phytoextraction of Pb contaminated soils. We evaluated the efficacy of a coor-dinated foliar application of plant growth regulators and soil fungicide and a chelator in order to optimize phytoextraction. Plants were grown in soil culture under controlled conditions. First, three exogenous nitric oxide (NO) donors were evaluated at multiple concentrations: (1) S-nitroso-N-acetylpenicillamine (SNAP); (2) sodium nitroprusside (SNP); and (3) S-nitrosoglutathione (GSNO). Second, the effect of SNP (0.5 µM) was examined further with the model chelate EDTA and the soil fungicide propicanazole. Third, a combined foliar application of SNP and gibberellic acid (GA3) was examined with EDTA and propicanazole. The soil application of propiconazole (a broad-spectrum fungicides) reduced AMF colonization and allowed greater Pb phytoextraction. The foliar application of SNP resulted in similar concentrations of Pb (roots and foliage) to plants that were challenged with chelates and soil fungicides. The combined foliar application of SNP and GA3 resulted in significantly greater average Pb concentration (243 mg kg−1) in plant foliage in comparison to control plants (182 mg kg−1) and plants treated with GA3 alone (202 mg kg−1). The combined foliar application of SNP and GA3 resulted in the greatest phytoextraction efficiency and could therefore potentially improve phytoextraction by switchgrass grown in Pb contaminated soils.

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This article received funding through Kennesaw State University's Faculty Open Access Publishing Fund, supported by the KSU Library System and KSU Office of Research.