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Can physiological endpoints improve the sensitivity of assays with plants in the risk assessment of contaminated soils?


, : Can physiological endpoints improve the sensitivity of assays with plants in the risk assessment of contaminated soils?. Plos One 8(4): E59748-E59748

Site-specific risk assessment of contaminated areas indicates prior areas for intervention, and provides helpful information for risk managers. This study was conducted in the Ervedosa mine area (Braganca, Portugal), where both underground and open pit exploration of tin and arsenic minerals were performed for about one century (1857 - 1969). We aimed at obtaining ecotoxicological information with terrestrial and aquatic plant species to integrate in the risk assessment of this mine area. Further we also intended to evaluate if the assessment of other parameters, in standard assays with terrestrial plants, can improve the identification of phytotoxic soils. For this purpose, soil samples were collected on 16 sampling sites distributed along four transects, defined within the mine area, and in one reference site. General soil physical and chemical parameters, total and extractable metal contents were analyzed. Assays were performed for soil elutriates and for the whole soil matrix following standard guidelines for growth inhibition assay with Lemna minor and emergence and seedling growth assay with Zea mays. At the end of the Z. mays assay, relative water content, membrane permeability, leaf area, content of photosynthetic pigments (chlorophylls and carotenoids), malondialdehyde levels, proline content, and chlorophyll fluorescence (F(v) /F(m) and phi(PSII) ) parameters were evaluated. In general, the soils near the exploration area revealed high levels of Al, Mn, Fe and Cu. Almost all the soils from transepts C, D and F presented total concentrations of arsenic well above soils screening benchmark values available. Elutriates of several soils from sampling sites near the exploration and ore treatment areas were toxic to L. minor, suggesting that the retention function of these soils was seriously compromised. In Z. mays assay, plant performance parameters (other than those recommended by standard protocols), allowed the identification of more phytotoxic soils. The results suggest that these parameters could improve the sensitivity of the standard assays.

US$19.90

PMID: 23565165

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0059748


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