Metal Accumulation in Aquatic Macrophytes from Southeast Queensland, Australia

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Cardwell, AJ
Hawker, DW
Greenway, M
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To determine the extent of metal accumulation in some aquatic macrophytes from contaminated urban streams in southeast Queensland, plants were sampled from six sites, along with contiguous sediments. In all, 15 different species were collected, the most common genera being Typha (Cattails or Bulrushes) and Persicaria (Knotweeds). Before heavy metal analysis, plants were further separated into various morphological tissues, and five selected samples were separated into various physiological tissues. The cadmium, copper, lead and zinc content of the plants were analysed using flames AAS. In general, plant roots exhibited higher metal concentrations than the contiguous sediments. Of the metals of interest, only for zinc was there a relatively clear pattern of increasing accumulation in aquatic macrophytes with increasing sediment metal concentrations. Comparison between morphological tissues of the sampled plants found that roots consistently presented higher metal concentrations than either the stems or leaves, however unlike previous studies, this investigation revealed no consistent trend of stems accumulating more metals than the leaves. For Typha spp., metal concentrations followed the order of roots > rhizomes > leaves, while for Persicaria spp. the order was roots > leaves > stems. The submerged species Myriophyllum aquaticum accumulated the highest levels of metals overall (e.g. Zn 4300 姠g-1 dry weight and Cd 6.5 姠g-1), and the emergent macrophytes also exhibited relatively high metal contents in their roots. The leaves of the submerged and floating-leafed species collected contained relatively high quantities of the four metals of interest, compared with the leaves of emergent aquatic macrophytes. In the Typha rhizome and Persicaria stem samples analysed for internal variation in metal content, there was a pattern of increasing metal concentrations towards the external sections of the stem, both for subterranean stems (rhizomes) and above-substrate stems. For Persicaria stems, no clear pattern was observed for cadmium and lead, the two metals investigated that are not required by plants for survival.

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© 2002 Elsevier : Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher : This journal is available online - use hypertext links

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