Dactylis glomerata L. cultivation on mercury contaminated soil and its physiological response to granular sulphur aided phytostabilization

Marta Pogrzeba*, Szymon Rusinowski, Jacek Krzyżak, Alicja Szada-Borzyszkowska, Jon Paul McCalmont, Paulina Zieleźnik-Rusinowska, Norbert Słaboń, Aleksandra Sas-Nowosielska

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Most mercury (Hg) deposition in the environment results from anthropogenic inputs, Chlor-Alkali Plants (CAPs) particularly had a significant Hg impact on the environment at a regional scale. Exposure to mercury compounds resulting in various toxic effects for living organisms. The aim of this study was to investigate the capacity of granular sulphur (S) soil amendment and cultivation of Dactylis glomerata to decrease gaseous mercury emission to the atmosphere and mercury mobility in soils affected by CAP activity in the past. The effect of this approach on D. glomerata physiological status was also assessed (Hg concentration in biomass, chlorophyll a fluorescence, pigment contents and oxidative stress). Stabilization of mercury in soil and reduction of root and shoot concentration did not influence biomass production. Despite similar yields, photosynthetic efficiency was higher for plants grown in sulphur amended soil compared to unamended soil, particularly observed in phenomenological energy fluxes. Relative chlorophyll content was 30% lower for amended soil plants, however based on chlorophyll fluorescence data those were in high portion ineffective. Oxidative stress products and catalase activity did not differ significantly between experimental treatments. Sulphur amendment was a key factor for reduction of Hg mobility in soil (reduced by about 30%) while plant cover was significant for the reduction of Hg atmospheric emission (emissions were 2-times higher in sulphur amended soil without plant cover). Due to the very high concentration of Hg in soil (798.2 ± 7.3 mg kg−1), growth inhibition was consistent regardless of treatment, demonstrated in the overload Reactive Oxygen Species scavenging mechanism and similar biomass yields. This leads to the conclusion that Hg may have greater impact on Calvin-Benson cycle associated enzymes than on the light-dependent photosynthesis phase. Despite these limitations this approach may still decrease environmental risks by reducing Hg emission to the atmosphere and reducing groundwater contamination.

Original languageEnglish
Article number113271
Number of pages10
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
Issue numberPart 2
Early online date18 Sept 2019
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Research financed by Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education under Institute for Ecology of Industrial Areas Statutory Fund.


  • Chlorophyll fluorescence
  • Cock's-foot
  • Hg
  • Oxidative stress


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