Effect of phosphogypsum on growth, physiology and the antioxidative defence system in sunflower seedlings

Nada Elloumi, Mohammed Zouari, Leila Chaari, Ferjani Ben Abdallah, Steve Woodward, Monem Kallel, Philippe Garrigues (Editor)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)


Phosphogypsum (PG) is the solid waste product of phosphate fertilizer production and is characterized by high concentrations of salts, heavy metals, and certain natural radionuclides. The work reported in this paper examined the influence of PG amendment on soil physicochemical proprieties, along with its potential impact on several physiological traits of sunflower seedlings grown under controlled conditions. Sunflower seedlings were grown on agricultural soil substrates amended with PG at rates of 0, 2.5, and 5 %. The pH of the soil decreased but electrical conductivity and organic matter, calcium, phosphorus, sodium, and heavy metal contents increased in proportion to PG concentration. In contrast, no variations were observed in magnesium content and small increases were recorded in potassium content. The effects of PG on sunflower growth, leaf chlorophyll content, nutritional status, osmotic regulator content, heavy metal accumulation, and antioxidative enzymes were investigated. Concentrations of trace elements in sunflower seedlings grown in PG-amended soil were considerably lower than ranges considered phytotoxic for vascular plants. The 5 % PG dose inhibited shoot extension and accumulation of biomass and caused a decline in total protein content. However, chlorophyll, lipid peroxidation, proline and sugar contents, and activities of antioxidant enzymes such as superoxide dismutase and catalase increased. Collectively, these results strongly support the hypothesis that enzymatic antioxidation capacity is an important mechanism in tolerance of PG salinity in sunflower seedlings.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14829-14840
Number of pages12
JournalEnvironmental Science and Pollution Research
Issue number19
Early online date21 May 2015
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2015


  • Phosphogypsum
  • Soil amendment
  • Heavy metals
  • Sunflower
  • Plant growth
  • Antioxidant activities


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