The use of vetiver grass (Vetiveria zizanioides) in the phytoremediation of soils contaminated with heavy metals

Yahua Chen, Zhenguo Shen, Xiangdong Li

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

242 Citations (Scopus)


Recent research has shown that phytoextraction approaches often require soil amendments, such as the application of EDTA, to increase the bioavailability of heavy metals in soils. However, EDTA and EDTA-heavy metal complexes can be toxic to plants and soil microorganisms and may leach into groundwater, causing further environmental pollution. In the present study, vetiver grass (Vetiveria zizanioides) was studied for its potential use in the phytoremediation of soils contaminated with heavy metals. In the pot experiment, the uptake and transport of Pb by vetiver from Pb-contaminated soils under EDTA application was investigated. The results showed that vetiver had the capacity to tolerate high Pb concentrations in soils. With the application of EDTA, the translocation ratio of Pb from vetiver roots to shoots was significantly increased. On the 14th day after 5.0 mmol EDTAkg-1of soil application, the shoot Pb concentration reached 42, 160, 243 mgkg-1DW and the root Pb concentrations were 266, 951, and 2280 mgkg-1DW in the 500, 2500 and 5000 mg Pbkg-1soils, respectively. In the short soil leaching column (9.0-cm diameter, 20-cm height) experiment, about 3.7%, 15.6%, 14.3% and 22.2% of the soil Pb, Cu, Zn and Cd were leached from the artificially contaminated soil profile after 5.0 mmol EDTA kg-1of soil application and nearly 126 mm of rainfall irrigation. In the long soil leaching experiment, soil columns (9.0-cm diameter, 60-cm height) were packed with uncontaminated soils (mimicking the subsoil under contaminated upper layers) and planted with vetiver. Heavy metal leachate from the short column experiment was applied to the surface of the long soil column, the artificial rainwater was percolated, and the final leachate was collected at the bottom of the soil columns. The results showed that soil matrix with planted vetiver, could re-adsorb 98%, 54%, 41%, and 88% of the initially applied Pb, Cu, Zn, and Cd, respectively, which may reduce the risk of heavy metals flowing downwards and entering the groundwater.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1553-1565
Number of pages13
JournalApplied Geochemistry
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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