Phytoremediation: the application of vermicompost to remove zinc, cadmium, copper, nickel and lead by sunflower plant

Chhotu D. Jadia, Madhusudan H. Fulekar

Environmental Biotechnology Laboratory, Department of Life Sciences, University of Mumbai, Santacruz (E), Mumbai - 400 098, Mumbai, India


A greenhouse experiment was conducted to determine the phytotoxic effect of heavy metals such as Cd, Cu, Ni, Pb and Zn on the growth of Sunflower (Helianthus annuus): on the seed germination, root/shoot growth and uptake of metals in soil-vermicompost media. The selected metals were dosed at various concentrations ranging from 0, 5, 10, 20, 40 and 50 ppm separately in soil vermicompost media (3:1) in pot experiment. The seed germination, root and shoot growth were found significantly affected by these metals at higher concentration of 40 and 50 ppm. However, the lower concentration of heavy metals ranging from 5 to 20 ppm doses were observed to be stimulating the root and shoot length and increase biomass of the sunflower plant. Sunflower was able to germinate and grow efficiently at all Zn concentration evaluated in this study. The research study of the sunflower indicates the heavy metal uptake at the concentrations 5, 10, 20, 40 and 50 ppm. Sunflower is a very fast-growing industrial oil crop with a high biomass producing plant to be used for phytoremediation (uptake) of toxic metals (Cu, Zn, Pb, Hg, As, Cd, Ni) from soil in heavily contaminated areas. Vermicompost can be used to remediate metals contaminated sites because it binds metals and increase uptake by providing nutrients such as sodium, magnesium, iron, zinc, manganese and copper which can serve as a natural fertilizer giving high yield of biomass and microbial consortium helped the overall growth of the sunflower plant. The use of vermicompost amended soil would be effective to remediate the heavy metals from contaminated environment.


heavy metals; Helianthus annuus; phytotoxicity; remediation uptake

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