Arsenic accumulation in the hyperaccumulator Chinese brake and its utilization potential for phytoremediation

J Environ Qual. 2002 Sep-Oct;31(5):1671-5. doi: 10.2134/jeq2002.1671.


The unique property of arsenic hyperaccumulation by the newly discovered Chinese brake (Pteris vittata L.) fern is of great significance in the phytoremediation of arsenic-contaminated soils. The objectives of this study were to (i) examine arsenic accumulation characterized by its distribution pattern in Chinese brake, and (ii) assess the phytoextraction potential of the plant. Young ferns with five or six fronds were transferred to an arsenic-contaminated soil containing 98 mg As kg-1 and grown for 20 wk in a greenhouse. At harvest, the Chinese brake produced a total dry biomass of 18 g plant-1. Arsenic concentration in the fronds was 6000 mg kg-1 dry mass after 8 wk of transplanting, and it increased to 7230 mg kg-1 after 20 wk with a bioconcentration factor (ratio of plant arsenic concentration to water-soluble arsenic in soil) of 1450 and a translocation factor (ratio of arsenic concentration in shoot to that in root) of 24. The arsenic concentrations increased as the fronds aged, with the old fronds accumulating as much as 13,800 mg As kg-1. Most (approximately 90%) of the arsenic taken up by the Chinese brake was transported to the fronds, with the lowest arsenic concentrations in roots. About 26% of the initial soil arsenic was removed by the plant after 20 wk of transplanting. Our data suggest that the arsenic hyperaccumulating property of the Chinese brake could be exploited on a large scale to remediate arsenic contaminated soils.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Arsenic / pharmacokinetics*
  • Biomass
  • Conservation of Natural Resources
  • Environmental Pollution / prevention & control
  • Plant Leaves / chemistry
  • Pteris / chemistry*
  • Soil Pollutants / pharmacokinetics*
  • Tissue Distribution


  • Soil Pollutants
  • Arsenic