Copper in plant species in a copper gradient in Catalonia (North East Spain) and their potential for phytoremediation

Charlotte Poschenrieder, Jaume Bech, Mercè Llugany, Alina Pace, Eva Fenés, Juan Barceló

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The accumulation of Cu in roots and shoots of 32 plant species growing on soils with a wide range of Cu concentrations (30-18 500 μg g-1 total soil Cu) located in Collserola Mountain (Barcelona, Spain) was analysed. High Cu availability decreased the species diversity in the Hyparrhenietum hirto-pubescentis, the natural plant association at the study sites. Shoot and root Cu concentrations in relation to extractable soil Cu concentrations were used for the evaluation of the Cu resistance strategy in the different species. Saturation of Cu accumulation in roots was observed in most species. Hyparrhenia hirta was the most efficient shoot excluder, while the linear increase of shoot Cu with the Cu soil concentration exhibited the highest slope in Hirschfeldia incana. Most species accumulated more Cu in roots than in shoots. High shoot/root Cu ratios were only found in the highly Cu-resistant Hirschfeldia incana, in the resistant or moderately resistant Spartium junceum and Reseda sp. (R. lutea and R. phyteuma), and in the much less resistant Ononis natrix. Only two species, Hirschfeldia incana and Sedum sediforme were able to support the extreme Cu-toxicity conditions on soils with 5000-16 800 μg g-1 extractable Cu. Among the grass species tested Hyparrhenia hirta was the most Cu-resistant species (up to 1950 μg g-1 extractable soil Cu). The potential usefulness of these pseudometallophytes for phytoremediation of Cu-contaminated soils is discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)247-256
JournalPlant and Soil
Publication statusPublished - 7 May 2001


  • Copper uptake
  • Malachite
  • Mediterranean vegetation
  • Phytoremediation


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