Zinc and copper uptake by plants under two transpiration rates. Part II. Buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum L.).Environ Pollut. 2005 Dec; 138(3):548-58.EP
To evaluate the environmental risks of irrigating crops with treated wastewater, a study was undertaken to quantify heavy metal uptake by 4-week old buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum L.) plants during 18 days of irrigation with 8 different Cu and Zn solutions under two transpiration rates (TR). At 4 weeks, potted buckwheat plants were transferred into one of the two growth chambers, offering either a high or low vapour pressure deficit (VDP) for, respectively, a high or low TR. Triplicate pots received one of the 8 irrigation treatments containing one of two Zn levels (0 and 25 mg/L) combined with one of four Cu levels (0, 5, 10 and 15 mg/L). Daily TR were measured by weighing the evapo-transpired water lost from the planted pot, less was the evaporation loss measured from triplicate non-planted pots. After 0, 6, 12 and 18 days of treatment, the stems and leaves of three randomly selected plants were harvested and after 18 days, the roots were harvested to determine Cu and Zn uptake. The treatments did not affect TR in terms of dry plant mass, indicating the absence of toxic effects. Irrigating with Zn, without Cu, increased dry biomass production, whereas the lowest biomass occurred with 15 and 30 mg/L of Cu with and without 25 mg/L of Zn, respectively, because higher applications of heavy metal significantly reduced soil pH. Plant Cu and Zn uptake increased with TR. With higher levels of Cu, Zn uptake by buckwheat was significantly reduced, while Zn had a slight but non-significant impact on Cu uptake. Previously and in a study exposing wheat plants to the same conditions, Cu significantly increased Zn uptake, while Zn had a slight but insignificant negative effect on Cu uptake. The buckwheat roots contained the greatest levels of Cu and Zn, indicating their role in moderating heavy metal uptake. Also, both Cu and Zn had a synergetic effect on each other in terms of root levels, and a similar observation was made in the earlier similar experiment using wheat plants. Irrigating a buckwheat crop with treated wastewater, with more natural Cu and Zn levels of 0.08 mg/L, could be quite beneficial without endangering the quality of the crop and acidifying the soil pH. The most concentrated experimental solutions contained 300 times more Cu and Zn, to obtain measurable differences.