Phytoextraction is a cost-effective and eco-friendly technique for the removal of pollutants, mainly heavy metal(loids) especially from polluted water and metal-contaminated soils. The phytoextraction of heavy metals is, in general, limited due to the low availability of heavy metals in the growth medium. Organic chelators can help to improve the phytoextraction by increasing metal mobility and solubility in the growth medium. The present research was carried out to examine the possibility of citric acid (CA) in improving chromium (Cr) phytoextraction by Lemna minor (duckweed). For this purpose, healthy plants were collected from nearby marsh and grown in hydroponics under controlled conditions. Initial metal contents of both marsh water and plant were measured along with physico-chemical properties of the marsh water. Different concentrations of Cr and CA were applied in the hydroponics in different combinations after defined intervals. Continuous aeration was supplied and pH maintained at 6.5 ± 0.1. Results showed that increasing concentration of Cr significantly decreased the plant biomass, photosynthetic pigments, leaf area, and antioxidant enzyme activities (like catalase, ascorbate peroxidase, superoxide dismutase, peroxidase). Furthermore, Cr stress increased the Cr concentrations, electrolyte leakage, hydrogen peroxide, and malondialdehyde contents in plants. The addition of CA alleviated the Cr-induced toxicity in plants and further enhanced the Cr uptake and its accumulation in L. minor. The addition of CA enhanced the Cr concentration in L. minor by 6.10, 26.5, 20.5, and 20.2% at 0, 10, 100, and 200 μM Cr treatments, respectively, compared to the respective Cr treatments without CA. Overall, the results of the present study showed that CA addition may enhance the Cr accumulation and tolerance in L. minor by enhancing the plant growth and activities of antioxidant enzymes.
Keywords: Accumulation; Antioxidants; Chromium; Citric acid; Lemna minor; Photosynthetic pigments; Reactive oxygen species.