Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology

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Chemistry and Biochemistry

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The accumulation of Pb deposits in soil is a growing global concern. Soil remediation options include phytoextraction that involves the use of plants and associated soil microorganism. Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.), a second-generation bioenergy crop was used in this study due to its ability to produce high biomass and grow in metal polluted soils. Plants were grown in Pb-contaminated soil (5,802.5 mg kg−1) in an environmentally controlled greenhouse. Plants were treated with exogenous application of the plant growth regulator (PGR) benzylaminopurine (BAP) or complete foliar nutrient solution (Triple-12®) twice a week until harvested. Plants also received the soil fungicide propiconazole (Infuse™) that was followed by the soil chelate nitrilotriacetic acid (NTA). Two concentrations of NTA were compared (5 mM and 10 mM) and combined application of NTA (10 mM) + APG (alkyl polyglucoside). Soil fungicide (propiconazole) was used to arrest arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) activities in the roots of switchgrass in order to enhance Pb-phytoextraction. Lead (Pb) was measured in dry plant materials using an ICP-OES. Phytoextraction by switchgrass was significantly improved by dual soil applications of 10 mMNTA, APG and foliar applications of BAP which resulted in the greatestaverage Pb concentration of 5,942 mg kg−1. The average dry mass of plants and the average value for total phytoextracted Pb (mg) per pot were significantly greatest for plants treated with 10 mM NTA, APG and BAP. Also, plants treated with NTA and BAP showed average bioconcentration factor of 1.02. The results suggested that chemically enhanced phytoextraction significantly improved biomass production of switchgrass and at the same time increased phytoextracted Pb which is important for phytoremediation and bioenergy industry.

Journal Title

Frontiers in Energy Research

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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.