Phytotoxicity and bioavailablity of nickel: chemical speciation and bioaccumulation

L.P. Weng, T.M. Lexmond, A. Wolthoorn, E.J.M. Temminghoff, W.H. van Riemsdijk

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The effect of pH on the bioaccumulation of nickel (Ni) by plants is opposite when using a nutrient solution or a soil as a growing medium. This paradox can be understood if the pH effect on the bioaccumulation, on the chemical speciation in the soil solution, and on the binding to the soil of Ni are all taken into account. Using simple equations to describe the individual relationships, it is possible to quantify these effects once the relationships have been established. Increased Ni uptake leads to reduced plant dry weight production for a certain growing period. The median effective concentration (EC50) decreased from 23 to 1.7 muM Ni in the nutrient solution for pH 4.0 to 7.0, whereas the EC50 of added Ni in a sandy soil increased from 0.72 to 9.95 mmol Ni/kg soil for pH 4.7 to 6.8. Bioaccumulation, binding to the soil solid phase, and binding to the dissolved organic matter all increase with increasing pH. However, the magnitude of the effect is the least for bioaccumulation as a function of pH, causing the apparent paradox.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2180-2187
JournalEnvironmental Toxicology and Chemistry
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2003


  • plants
  • chemical analysis
  • soil ph
  • heavy metals
  • nickel
  • toxicity
  • chemical speciation
  • bioavailability
  • phytotoxicity
  • ecotoxicology
  • donnan membrane technique
  • soil-ph
  • copper toxicity
  • trace-metals
  • availability
  • systems
  • cadmium
  • maize

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