Comparative assessment of the heavy metal phytoextraction potential of vegetables from agricultural soils: A field experiment


A field study was established to determine the phytoextraction potential of six vegetable species, namely Amaranthus viridis L., Basella alba L., Brassica chinensis var. Parachinensis, Brassica rapa L., Capsicum frutescens L., and Ocimum tenuiflorum L. These edible plants were selected for their short growth cycles and high biomass production, which are some traits for efficient phytoremediation. Following acid digestion of the soil and vegetable samples using the USEPA 3050B acid digestion method, the extracts were analyzed for Al, Cd, Co, Cr, Cu, Fe, Mn, Ni, Pb, and Zn using ICP-OES. Results in soil samples showed that the concentrations of both beneficial and essential heavy metals, and non-essential heavy metals are below the WHO, USEPA, and CCME soil quality guidelines. Al is one of the highest concentrations found in the soil samples but it tends to accumulate in the root part of all vegetable species compared to the aboveground parts. In general, B. rapa L. accumulated the highest level of Cd (0.4 mg/kg) and Pb (5.71 mg/kg), while B. alba L. accumulated the highest Cr (2.62 mg/kg) in all plant parts. The findings in this study indicated that Co, Cu, Fe, Mn and Zn were mostly accumulated in leaves of A. viridis L. (Co, Cu, Fe, Mn and Zn), B. alba L. (Co, Fe and Mn), B. chinensis (Mn and Zn) and O. tenuiflorum L. (Mn), and roots of C. frutescens L. (Co, Cu, Fe and Mn), B. alba L. (Co, Cu and Zn), A. viridis L. and B. chinensis (Cu and Fe) and B. rapa L. (Fe). Cr, Pb and Ni were significantly greater in B. alba L. (Cr) And B. rapa L. (Ni and Pb) roots. MTF >1 was observed in the roots of all species for Co, Cd, Zn, and Ni. BTC values varied between the different vegetable species with A. viridis L. having the greatest heavy metal mobility between its plant parts and the best heavy metal phytoextraction potential among other species. The PCA biplots showed that heavy metals were partitioned differently between various plant parts of the vegetable species and can be explained by the first two components (PC1 and PC2) which were associated with the root and/or leaf parts for most vegetable species.