The potential for phytoremediation of iron cyanide complex by willows

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Hybrid willows (Salix matsudana Koidz × Salix alba L.), weeping willows (Salix babylonica L.) and hankow willows (Salix matsudana Koidz) were exposed to potassium ferrocyanide to determine the potential of these plants to extract, transport and metabolize this iron cyanide complex. Young rooted cuttings were grown in hydroponic solution at 24.0 ± 0.5°C for 144 h. Ferrocyanide in solution, air, and aerial tissues of plants was analyzed spectrophotometrically. Uptake of ferrocyanide from the aqueous solution by plants was evident for all treatments and varied with plant species, ranging from 8.64 to 15.67% of initial mass. The uptake processes observed from hydroponic solution showed exponential disappearance kinetics. Very little amounts of the applied ferrocyanide were detected in all parts of plant materials, confirming passage of ferrocyanide through the plants. No ferrocyanide in air was found due to plant transpiration. Mass balance analysis showed that a large fraction of the reduction of initial mass in hydroponic solution was metabolized during transport within the plant materials. The difference in the metabolic rate of ferrocyanide between the three plant species was comparably small, indicating transport of ferrocyanide from hydroponic solution to plant materials and further transport within plant materials was a limiting step for assimilating this iron cyanide complex. In conclusion, phytoremediation of ferrocyanide by the plants tested in this study has potential field application.

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