Effects of external iron concentration upon seedling growth and uptake of Fe and phosphate by the common reed, Phragmites australis (Cav.) Trin ex. Steudel

Ann Bot. 2003 Dec;92(6):801-6. doi: 10.1093/aob/mcg205. Epub 2003 Oct 17.


The objectives of this study were to determine whether, and to what degree, the aqueous iron concentration in the growing medium affects the growth of, and Fe uptake by, Phragmites australis, and whether the presence of iron in the growing environment affects the uptake of the essential element phosphate. The wetland macrophyte P. australis was grown under laboratory conditions in nutrient solution (0.31 mg L(-1) phosphate) containing a range of iron concentrations (0-50 mg L(-1) Fe). A threshold of iron concentration (1 mg L(-1)) was found, above which growth of P. australis was significantly inhibited. No direct causal relationship between iron content in aerial tissues and growth inhibition was found, which strongly suggests that iron toxicity cannot explain these results. Phosphate concentrations in aerial tissues were consistently sufficient for growth and development (2-3 % d. wt) despite significant variation in concentration of phosphate associated with roots. External Fe concentration had a significant effect on the growth of P. australis and on both Fe and phosphate concentrations associated with roots. However, neither direct toxicity nor phosphate deficiency could explain the reduction in growth above 1 mg L(-1) external Fe concentration

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biological Transport
  • Iron / metabolism*
  • Iron / pharmacology*
  • Kinetics
  • Phosphates / metabolism
  • Plant Roots / drug effects
  • Plant Roots / growth & development
  • Plant Roots / metabolism
  • Poaceae / drug effects
  • Poaceae / growth & development*
  • Poaceae / metabolism
  • Rhizome / drug effects
  • Rhizome / growth & development
  • Rhizome / metabolism


  • Phosphates
  • Iron