Effect of temperature on the uptake and metabolism of cyanide by weeping willows

X.-Z. Yu, Stefan Trapp, P.-H. Zhou, L. Chen

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Plants’ uptake and metabolism of cyanide in response to changes in temperature was investigated.
Pre-rooted weeping willows (Salix babylonica L.) were exposed to hydroponic solution
spiked with potassium cyanide for 2–3 d. Ten different temperatures were used, ranging from
11◦C to 32◦C. Cyanide in water, plant tissue, and air was analyzed spectrophotometrically.
The results revealed that significant amounts of the applied cyanide were removed from the
aqueous solutions in the presence of plants. Small amounts of free cyanide were detected
in plant materials in all treatments, but there was no clear trend that showed an increase
or decrease in the accumulation in plant material with temperature. The highest cyanide
metabolism rate for weeping willows was found at 32◦C with a value of 2.78 mg CN/(kg·d),
whereas the lowest value was 1.20 mg CN/(kg·d) at 11◦C. The temperature coefficient, Q10,
which is the ratio of metabolism rates at a 10◦C difference, was determined for weeping
willows to be 1.46. In conclusion, changes in temperature have a substantial influence on
the uptake and metabolism of cyanide by plants, but cyanide accumulation does not increase
with temperature.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Phytoremediation
Pages (from-to)243-255
Publication statusPublished - 2007


  • cyanide
  • metabolism
  • phytoremediation
  • temperature
  • weeping willows


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