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Acta Agron Sin ›› 2010, Vol. 36 ›› Issue (1): 154-162.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1006.2010.00154


Effects of Phosphorus on Growth and Uptake of Heavy Metals in Plants Grown in the Soil Contaminated by uranium Tailing

XIANG Yan-Ci1,2,GUAN Chun-Yun1,HUANG Huang1,YAN Ming-Li2,PENG Xiu-Hua2   

  1. 1Institute of Oil Crops,Hunan Agricultural University,Changsha 410128,China;2School of Life Science,Hunan University of Science and Technology,Xiangtan 411201,China
  • Received:2009-06-23 Revised:2009-09-30 Online:2010-01-12 Published:2009-11-17


The uranium tailing contains uranium and other heavy metals like lead, cadmium and zinc, which usually makes the surrounding soil and water bodies seriously polluted with contaminated rain and dust. There is a potential threat to human’s health because the heavy metals can be absorbed and accumulated by the crops grown in the polluted areas, and then possibly transferred to human body by an environment-crop-food chain. The development of an economical and effective remediation method for the heavy-metal contaminated soil is urgent to improve environmental quality and enhance the food safety. As one of the fast-developing technologies, chemical stabilization has been widely studied, and the study on inhibition of heavy metal contamination by adding phosphorus-containing material to soil is becoming an international hotspot. In this study, two species of oilseed rapes, B. junea and B. napus, grown in containers with the uranium-tailing contaminated soil, were used to investigate the effects of phosphorus fertilization on plant growth and accumulation of heavy metals (U, Cd, Zn, and Pb). Container soil was treated by adding a phosphorus fertilizer NaH2PO4 with a rate of 0, 30, 60, 120, 240, and 480 mg P kg-1, respectively. For the control soil (without adding phosphorus fertilization), there were a lower concentration of total nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and organic matter, and a higher concentration of U, Cd, Zn and Pb. Plant growth of both species was inhibited. Compared with the control group, the concentration of phosphorus significantly increased in plants grown in the P-fertilizer added soil. The DTPA-exactable concentrations of U, Cd, Zn, and Pb in this soil were decreased by 17.1–70.5%, 24.0–57.6%, 8.9–32.4%, and 8.6–55.8%, respectively. Also, addition of phosphorus in the uranium-tailing contaminated soil significantly decreased the contents of U, Cd, Zn, and Pb in plant organs. A significant positive correlation (P<0.01) was observed between the contents of U, Cd, Zn, and Pb in plant organs of both species and DTPA-exactable concentrations of these metals in the contaminated soil. Additionally, addition of phosphorus fertilization of 60-480 mg P kg-1 significantly increased dry weight, height, root length and chlorophyll content of plants. A significant decrease of SOD activity and MDA content occurred in both species grown in the P-fertilizer treated soil compared to the control. Therefore, application of phosphorus fertilizer to the uranium-tailing contaminated soil is a practical and effective approach to reduce accumulation of heavy metals in plant organs of oilseed rapes and the risk of these pollutants entering the food chain.

Key words: Oilseed rape, Phosphorus, Accumulation, Uranium tailing, Heavy metal

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