Bioindication of soil pollution in the delta of the Don River and the coast of the Taganrog Bay with heavy metals based on anatomical, morphological and biogeochemical studies of macrophyte (Typha australis Schum. & Thonn)

Environ Geochem Health. 2021 Apr;43(4):1563-1581. doi: 10.1007/s10653-019-00379-3. Epub 2019 Jul 16.


The results of biogeochemical and bioindication studies on the resistance of natural populations of macrophyte plant-cattail (Typha australis Schum. & Thonn) on the coast of the Taganrog Bay of the Sea of Azov and the sea edge of the Don River delta with regard to local pollution zones are presented. Plant resistance has been assessed through manifestation of their protective functions in relation to heavy metals. An excess in the lithospheric Clarkes and MPC in Zn, Cd and Pb in Fluvisols has been found. The total index of soil pollution (Zc) has made it possible to identify areas with different categories of contamination within the study area exposed to human impact. High mobility of Zn, Cd, Pb, Cr and Ni in Fluvisols has been revealed, which is confirmed by the significant bioavailability of Zn, Cr and Cd that are accumulated in the macrophyte plant tissues. The absorption of heavy metals by cattail plants is allowed for both the soil and the water of the nearby reservoir, where aquatic systems are a kind of "biological filter" contributing to water purification from pollutants. The impact of the environmental stress factor has been found to be manifested not only in the features of heavy metal accumulation and distribution in plant tissues, but also at the morphological and anatomical level according to the type of prolification. Changes in the cell membranes as well as in main cytoplasmic organelles (mitochondria, plastids, pyroxis, etc.) of the root and leaf cells have been identified, the most significant changes in the ultrastructure being noted in the tissues of leaf chlorenchyma. It is assumed that the identified structural changes contribute to slowing down of the ontogenetic development of plants and reduction in their morphometric parameters when exposed to anthropogenic pollution. Therefore, cattails can be effectively used as biological indicators while determining environmental pressures.

Keywords: Contamination; Fluvisols; Heavy metals; Typha australis Schum. & Thonn; Ultrastructure.

MeSH terms

  • Bays
  • China
  • Environmental Monitoring / methods
  • Humans
  • Metals, Heavy / analysis*
  • Metals, Heavy / toxicity
  • Plant Leaves / chemistry
  • Rivers / chemistry
  • Soil Pollutants / analysis*
  • Soil Pollutants / toxicity
  • Typhaceae / drug effects*
  • Typhaceae / metabolism


  • Metals, Heavy
  • Soil Pollutants