Phytoremediation of heavy metals using Amaranthus dubius
Mellem, John Jason
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Phytoremediation is an emerging technology where specially selected and engineered metal-accumulating plants are used for bioremediation. Amaranthus dubius (marog or wild spinach) is a popular nutritious leafy vegetable crop which is widespread especially in the continents of Africa, Asia and South America. Their rapid growth and great biomass makes them some of the highest yielding leafy crops which may be beneficial for phytoremediation. This study was undertaken to evaluate the potential of A. dubius for the phytoremediation of Chromium (Cr), Mercury (Hg), Arsenic (As), Lead (Pb), Copper (Cu) and Nickel (Ni). Locally gathered soil and plants of A. dubius were investigated for the metals from a regularly cultivated area, a landfill site and a sewage site. Metals were extracted from the samples using microwave-digestion and analyzed using Inductively Coupled Plasma – Mass Spectroscopy (ICP-MS). Further experiments were conducted with plants from locally collected seeds of A. dubius, in a tunnel house under controlled conditions. The mode of phytoremediation, the effect of the metals on the plants, the ability of the plant to extract metals from soil (Bioconcentration Factor - BCF), and the ability of the plants to move the metals to the aerial parts of the plants (Translocation Factor - TF) were evaluated for the different metals. Finally, A. dubius was micro-propagated in a tissue culture system with and without exposure to the metal, and the effect was studied by electron microscopy.