Cadmium and zinc in plants and soil solutions from contaminated soils

S.E. Lorenz, R.E. Hamon, P.E. Holm, H.C. Domingues, E.M. Sequeira, T.H. Christensen

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review


    In an experiment using ten heavy metal-contaminated soils from six European countries, soil solution was sampled by water displacement before and after the growth of radish. Concentrations of Cd, Zn and other elements in solution (K, Ca, Mg, Mn) generally decreased during plant growth, probably because of uptake by plants and the subsequent redistribution of ions onto soil exchange sites at lower ionic strength. Speciation analysis by a resin exchange method showed that most Cd and Zn in non-rhizospbere solutions was present as Cd2+ and Zn2+; respectively. The proportion of free ions was slightly lower in rhizosphere solutions, mainly due to an increase in dissolved organic carbon during plant growth. Solution pH increased during plant growth, although the bulk soil pH generally remained constant. Cd concentrations in leaves and tubers were more closely correlated with their total or free ionic concentrations in rhizosphere solutions (adjusted R-2 greater than or equal to 0.90) than with their concentrations in soils (adj. R-2 greater than or equal to 0.79). Cd concentrations in non-rhizosphere solutions were only poorly correlated with Cd concentrations in leaves and tubers. In contrast to Cd, there were no soil parameters that individually predicted Zn concentrations in leaves and tubers closely. However, multiple correlation analysis (including Zn concentrations in rhizosphere solutions and in bulk soils) closely predicted Zn concentrations in leaves and tubers (adj. R-2 = 0.85 and 0.70, respectively). This suggests that the great variability among soils in the solubility of Zn affected the rate of release of Zn into solution, and thus Zn uptake. There was no such effect for Cd, for which solubility varied much less. Furthermore, the plants may have partly controlled Zn uptake, as they took up relatively less at high solution concentrations of Zn.

    Free ionic concentrations in soil solution did not predict concentrations of Cd or Zn in plants better than their total concentrations in solution. This suggests that with these soils, analysis of Cd and Zn speciation is of little practical importance when their bioavailability is assessed.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalPlant and Soil
    Issue number1
    Pages (from-to)21 - 31
    Publication statusPublished - 1997


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