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Environ Pollut. 2002;120(2):463-73.

Evaluation of Atriplex lines for selenium accumulation, salt tolerance and suitability for a key agricultural insect pest.

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Department of Entomology, University of California, Riverside 92521, USA.


Thirty Atriplex lines were examined for potential habitat improvement and phytoremediation of selenium (Se) contaminated sites. Studies were conducted to determine the biomass production, Se accumulation, and resistance of each line to the beet armyworm, Spodoptera exigua, an agriculturally important insect. Plants were tested using three salinity treatments: (1) control, no Se; (2) NaCl and CaCl2 salts and 1 mg l(-1) Se (12.7 microM) added as sodium selenate; and (3) iso-osmotic to treatment 2 containing high concentrations of sulfate and I mg l(-1) Se added as sodium selenate. Insect bioassays measured survival, growth, and development. Atriplex patula. A. spongiosa 415862, A. hortensis, A. hortensis 379088 and A. hortensis 379092 were among the top biomass producers and Se accumulators, yet they exhibited significantly reduced insect growth, development, and survival. High background sulfate strongly reduced Se accumulation, suggesting that phytoremediation potential is greatest in saline areas having low to moderate sulfate levels. However, these lines grew well in high salinity soils, indicating possible use as a self-seeding cover crop to improve habitat. All plant lines grown in control and high sulfate salinity treatments are acceptable oviposition sites for S. exigua, indicating that these plants would help reduce populations of this key agricultural pest.

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