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Environ Sci Technol. 2004 Nov 15;38(22):6147-54.

Uptake of weathered DDT in vascular plants: potential for phytoremediation.

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Environmental Sciences Group, Royal Military College of Canada, Station Forces, Kingston, Ontario K7K 7B4, Canada.


Since the discovery of its insecticidal properties and its subsequent widespread use, DDT [2,2-bis(chlorophenyl)-1,1,1-trichloroethane] has accumulated in the environment, having a wide range of adverse effects on nontarget species. Due to their hydrophobicity, DDT and other persistent organic pollutants are difficult to remove from contaminated soils, and increasingly so through time as weathering occurs. Phytoremediation is an emerging plant-based technology that may be used to cost-effectively remove or neutralize contaminants in the environment. For some phytoremediation strategies, it must first be possible to translocate hydrophobic chemicals across the root and through the shoot via an aqueous transpiration stream. The objective of this study was to compare the ability of five plant varieties (zucchini, tall fescue, alfalfa, rye grass, and pumpkin) to mobilize and translocate DDT. Plants were grown in the greenhouse in soil contaminated with DDT and its metabolites, DDD and DDE (sigmaDDT refers to all of DDT, DDD, and DDE) at two concentrations (high approximately 3700 ng/g, and low approximately 150 ng/g). All trays were covered with laboratory Parafilm to limit volatilization. Cucurbita pepo species (pumpkin and zucchini) achieved the highest translocation and bioaccumulation factors, and also extracted the highest absolute amounts of sigmaDDT from both the high and low sigmaDDT soils. In the high sigmaDDT soil treatment, pumpkin accumulated 1519 ng of sigmaDDT in the roots and 57,536 ng of sigmaDDT in the shoots, and zucchini accumulated 2043 ng of sigmaDDT in the roots and 35,277 ng of sigmaDDT in the shoots. With the exception of alfalfa and pumpkin, principal component analysis detected no preferential translocation or transformation of sigmaDDT compounds within the plant. The success of the Cucurbita pepo species in this study to extract and translocate such hydrophobic molecules may be related to their high transpiration volume, large above-ground biomass, and composition of root exudates. This suggests potential for their application in phytoremediation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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