Effects of Arsenic on Nutrient Accumulation and Distribution in Selected Ornamental Plants


In Miami, Florida, 95% of residential and 33% commercial soils exceed the Florida Department of Environmental Protection goals for cleanup of arsenic contamination. Ornamental plants have not been fully investigated as a mechanism for phytoremediation of low level As contaminated soil. This study evaluates nutrient uptake by ornamental plants grown in a hydroponic system containing concentrations of 0, 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 or 70 uM As (0.0, 0.75, 1.5, 3.0, 3.75, 5.25 mg·L-1 As, respectively). Uptake of Ca, K, Mg and Mo was likely influenced by the toxic effect of As on root functions. Arsenic had little effect on Ca, K and Mg transportation to the shoot at any but the highest As exposure rate. Tissue P concentration was similar to or higher than that found in controls and As competition with P uptake occurred at 70 uM As only. Tissue sulfur initially increased then subsequently decreased at 70 uM As where uptake could no longer supply enough S for both detoxification and normal metabolic needs. The effect of As on plant B was likely a result of membrane leakage and overall tissue damage leading to a reduction in transpiration. Arsenic induced Fe deficiency was likely the primary cause of chlorosis; however, As induced reduction in Zn, Mn or Mg contributed to chlorosis. Copper use in cellular functions was very efficient; nevertheless, Cu deficiency was one of the initial effects of As toxicity. Differences in mineral uptake reflect the plant’s attempt to detoxify As (i.e. increase in S for S-containing As chelators), mitigate damage to the cell (i.e. Ca to repair leaky menbranes) or continue cellular functions through alternative pathways (i.e. Fe superoxide dismutases to replace the function of Cu/ZnSOD).

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T. Reed, S. , Ayala-Silva, T. , B. Dunn, C. and G. Gordon, G. (2015) Effects of Arsenic on Nutrient Accumulation and Distribution in Selected Ornamental Plants. Agricultural Sciences, 6, 1513-1531. doi: 10.4236/as.2015.612145.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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