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Int J Phytoremediation. 2003;5(2):105-23.

Ability of cold-tolerant plants to grow in hydrocarbon-contaminated soil.

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  • 1Department of Soil Science, University of Saskatchewan, 51 Campus Drive, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, S7N 5A8, Canada.


Phytoremediation of hydrocarbons in soil involves plants and their associated microorganisms. Differences in environmental conditions and restrictions on species importation mean that each country may need to identify indigenous plants to use for phytoremedation. Screening plants for hydrocarbon tolerance before screening for degradation ability may prove more economical than screening directly for degradation. Thirty-nine cold-tolerant plants native, or exotic and naturalized, in western Canada were assessed for their ability to survive in crude oil-contaminated soil. Four naturalized grasses (i.e., Agropyron pectiniforme, Bromus inermis, Phleum pratense, and Poa pratensis), three naturalized legumes (i.e., Medicago sativa, Melilotus officinalis, and Trifolium repens), two native forbs (i.e., Artemisia frigida and Potentilla pensylvanica), one native grass (i.e., Bromus ciliatus) and two native legumes (i.e., Glycyrrhiza lepidota and Psoralea esculenta) exhibited phytoremediation potential, based on survival. We determined the effect of increasing crude oil concentrations on total and root biomass, and relative growth rate of those species with the highest survival. The addition of 0.5%, 1%, and 5% (crude oil wt/fresh soil wt) crude oil to soil significantly decreased both the total biomass by at least 22% of the control and the relative growth rate of all species except P. esculenta. Root biomass significantly decreased by at least 22% with crude oil addition in all species except P. esculenta and A. frigida. Total biomass production in contaminated soil had a significant negative correlation with the relative growth rate in uncontaminated soil.

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