Heavy metal accumulations of 24 asparagus bean cultivars grown in soil contaminated with Cd alone and with multiple metals (Cd, Pb, and Zn).J Agric Food Chem. 2007 Feb 07; 55(3):1045-52.JA
Crops grown in heavy metal contaminated soils are an important avenue for these toxic pollutants entering the human food chain. Information on how crops respond to soil contaminations of single versus multiple metals is scarce and much needed. This study investigated the accumulation of Cd by 24 cultivars of asparagus bean (Vigna unguiculata subsp. Sesquipedalis L., family Fabaceae) under a low level (0.8 mg kg-1) and a high level (11.8 mg kg-1) of Cd exposure in a garden experiment, and that in a field experiment with Cd, Pb, and Zn (1.2, 486, and 1114 mg kg-1, respectively) contaminated soil. Both experiments showed that there were highly significant variations among the tested cultivars in Cd accumulation by roots, stems, leaves, and fruits of asparagus bean. In the garden experiment, all cultivars under the low Cd exposure and 41.7% of the tested cultivars under the high Cd exposure bore fruits (pods) whose Cd concentrations were lower than 0.05 mg kg-1 fw and therefore were safe for consumption. In addition, the fruit Cd concentrations of cultivars with black seed coats were significantly lower than those with red or spotted seed coats. These results suggest that asparagus bean is a hypo-accumulator to Cd pollutant and the trait of Cd accumulation is genetic-dependent among cultivars. In the field experiment, correlation between fruit Cd and Pb concentrations was significantly positive (p < 0.05). Additional correlation analyses between two experiments showed that fruit Cd concentrations in the field experiment were significantly correlated with those exposed to the high level of Cd stress, instead of to the low level of Cd stress in the garden experiment. This suggests that the presence of other toxic heavy metals in the soil might have facilitated the accumulation of Cd in fruits, and the selection of pollution-safe-cultivars (PSC) in multi-metal polluted condition could refer to the PSCs selected under a high level exposure of a single heavy metal.