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Responses of Avicennia marina (Forssk.) Vierh. to contamination by selected heavy metals.

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Heavy metal contamination of mangroves is of critical concern due to its accumulative and adverse effects in aquatic ecosystems. This study was undertaken to investigate the effects of mercury (Hg ), lead (Pb ), copper (Cu ) and zinc (Zn ) on plant responses, specifically growth and productivity, in Avicennia marina (Forssk.) Vierh. A. marina plants were grown for twelve months in pots contaminated with Hg +, Pb +, Cu2+ and Zn2+ at concentrations of 0, 40, 80, 120 and 160 ppm (1 ppm = 1 (agmf1). Accumulation and distribution of the heavy metals in shoot and root tissues were determined using atomic absorption spectroscopy (Perkin-Elmer Model 303) while secretion of the heavy metals from leaves was studied using scanning electron microscopy and energy dispersive X-ray microanalysis. I hypothesized that heavy metals have deleterious effects on plant growth and that they are absorbed by roots and secreted from salt glands present on the leaves. SEM X-ray microanalyses confirmed secretion of Cu + and Zn + ions as well as salt (NaCl) from glandular structures on both the adaxial and abaxial surfaces of leaves; however Hg2+ and Pb2+ were not detected in the secretion. Ion concentrations were significantly higher in plant roots than in shoots, particularly at 160 ligml"1 for all heavy metals. In addition, toxic levels of Hg and Pb were detected in the shoot tissue; however, Cu2+ and Zn2+ were within the normal ion concentration in the shoots. Plant height, number of leaves, biomass accumulation and chlorophyll content were significantly lower at 160 ugml" than the control values for all heavy metals. Carbon dioxide exchange, transpiration and leaf conductance generally decreased with increasing metal concentration. CO2 exchange at a concentration of 160 (J-gmf1 was significantly lower than the control for all metals. CO2 exchange at 160 ugml"1 for Hg2+, Pb2+, Cu2+ and Zn were 49.6 %, 55 %, 47.6 % and 63.6 % respectively lower than the control values. Photosystem II (PS II) quantum yield, photochemical efficiency of PSII (Fv/Fm) and electron transport rate (ETR) through PS II generally decreased with increasing concentration for all heavy metals. XV This study has shown that A. marina experiences dose-dependent stress responses to Cu2+, Zn2+, Hg2+ and Pb2+ in shoot and root tissue at a concentration of 160 lagmi"1, evidenced by decreases in growth and photosynthetic performance. The results also ~)A- "7-1- 9-1- "J-\-indicate that CuZT, Znz\ HgZT and PbZT are taken up by roots and transported to shoots. In addition, only Cu and Zn are secreted via the glands while Hg and Pb accumulate within the shoots.


Thesis (M.Sc.)-University of KwaZulu-Natal, 2008.


Avicennia marina., Mangrove plants--Effect of heavy metals on., Theses--Marine biology.