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J Environ Manage. 2019 Aug 21;249:109378. doi: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2019.109378. [Epub ahead of print]

Plant growth, root distribution and non-aqueous phase liquid phytoremediation at the pore-scale.

Author information

1
Cardiff School of Engineering, Cardiff University, Queen's Buildings, The Parade, Cardiff, Wales, CF24 3AA, United Kingdom. Electronic address: OniosunSA1@cardiff.ac.uk.
2
Cardiff School of Engineering, Cardiff University, Queen's Buildings, The Parade, Cardiff, Wales, CF24 3AA, United Kingdom. Electronic address: HarbottleM@cardiff.ac.uk.
3
Cardiff School of Engineering, Cardiff University, Queen's Buildings, The Parade, Cardiff, Wales, CF24 3AA, United Kingdom. Electronic address: TripathyS@cardiff.ac.uk.
4
Cardiff School of Engineering, Cardiff University, Queen's Buildings, The Parade, Cardiff, Wales, CF24 3AA, United Kingdom. Electronic address: Cleall@cardiff.ac.uk.

Abstract

The success of phytoremediation is dependent on the exposure of plants to contaminants, which is controlled by root distribution, physicochemical characteristics, and contaminant behavior in the soil environment. Whilst phytoremediation has been successful in remediating hydrocarbons and other organic contaminants, there is little understanding of the impact of non-aqueous phase liquids (NAPLs) on plant behavior, root architecture and the resulting impact of this on phytoremediation. Light NAPLs (LNAPLs) may be present in pore spaces in the capillary zone as a continuous or semi-continuous phase, or as unconnected ganglia which act as individual contaminant sources. Experimental work with ryegrass (Lolium perenne) grown under hydroponic conditions in idealised pore scale models is presented, exploring how plant growth, root distribution and development, and oil removal are affected through direct physical contact with a model LNAPL (mineral oil). In the presence of low levels of LNAPL, a significant decrease in root length was observed, whilst at higher LNAPL levels root lengths increased due to root diversion and spreading, with evidence of root redistribution in the case of LNAPL contamination across multiple adjacent pores. Changes to root morphology were also observed in the presence of LNAPL with plant roots coarse and crooked compared to long, fine and smooth roots in uncontaminated columns. Root and shoot biomass also appear to be impacted by the LNAPL although the effects are complex, affected by both root diversion and thickening. Substantial levels of LNAPL removal were observed, with roots close to LNAPL sources able to remove dissolved-phase contamination, and root growth through LNAPL sources suggest that direct uptake/degradation is possible.

KEYWORDS:

Lolium perenne; Non-aqueous phase liquids; Phytoremediation; Root architecture

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