Combining metal-binding particles and metal-tolerant plants (metallophytes) offers a promising new approach for rehabilitation of heavy metal contaminated sites. Three types of hydrogel metal-binding polymer particles were synthesized and their effects on metal concentrations tested in vitro using metal ion solutions. The most effective of the tested polymers was a micron-sized thiol functional cross-linked acrylamide polymer which reduced the available solution concentrations of Pb2+ (9.65mM), Cu2+ (4mM) and Zn2+ (10mM) by 86.5%, 75.5% and 63.8%, respectively, and was able to store water up to 608% of its dry mass. This polymer was not toxic to seed germination. In deionised water, it enhanced seed germination, and at otherwise phytotoxic Pb2+ (9.65mM) and Zn2+ (10mM) concentrations, it allowed normal germination and root elongation of the metallophyte grass Astrebla lappacea. We conclude that the polymer has the potential to facilitate restoration of heavy metal contaminated lands by reducing the concentration of metal cations in the soil solution and improving germination rates through reduced toxicity and enhanced plant water relations.
- Metal toxicity
- Metal-binding particles