Evaluation of the ability of two plants for the phytoremediation of Cd in salt marshes

Marta Nunes da Silva, Ana P. Mucha, A. Cristina Rocha, Carla Silva, Carolina Carli, Carlos R. Gomes, C. Marisa R. Almeida*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Several salt marsh plant species have shown to be able to uptake and concentrate metals in their tissues, showing potential for metal phytoremediation. However, studies in controlled conditions, mimicking as much as possible the plants natural environment, are needed to confirm this potential. For the present study, Juncus maritimus and Phragmites australis were collected in an estuary together with the sediment surrounding their roots, put in vessels and maintained in greenhouses under estuarine tidal simulation. After 3 weeks of acclimation, vessels were spiked with two different cadmium concentrations. After 2 months, cadmium was assessed in plant tissues and sediments. Results indicate that both plant species were able to uptake and translocate cadmium into their tissues, contributing also to retain it in rhizosediments and thus reducing the available amount of metal in the environment. Metal was preferentially accumulated in belowground structures, in concentrations not directly proportional to the amount of cadmium present in the sediment. Although no visual toxicity signs were observed, some defence mechanisms were triggered as observed by the changes in carotenoids, lignin, total soluble phenolic compounds and thiolic compounds levels, this response differing between plant species. This work shows that these two salt marsh plants can contribute for the retention of cadmium in salt marshes being useful for the phytostabilization of this metal in estuarine environments.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)78-84
Number of pages7
JournalEstuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science
Publication statusPublished - 20 Mar 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Cadmium
  • Juncus maritimus
  • Phragmites australis
  • Phytoremediation
  • Salt marsh plants


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