Effects of Copper Sulfate on Seedlings of Prosopis pubescens (Screwbean Mesquite)
Phytoextraction is an established method of removal of heavy metals from contaminated soils worldwide. Phytoextraction is most efficient if local plants are used in the contaminated site. We propose that Prosopis pubescens (Screw bean mesquite) would be a successful phytoextractor of copper in our local soils. In order to determine the feasibility of using Screw bean mesquite, we utilized inductively-coupled plasma-optical emission spectroscopy (ICP-OES) and elemental analysis to observe the uptake of copper and the effects on macro and micro nutrients within laboratory-grown seedlings. We have previously shown that P. pubescens is a hyperaccumulator of copper in soil-grown seedlings.
Light and transmission electron microscopy demonstrated death of root cells and ultrastructural changes due to the presence of copper from 50 mg/L – 600 mg/L. Ultrastructural changes included plasmolysis, starch accumulation, increased vacuolation and swollen chloroplasts with disarranged thylakoid membranes in cotyledons. Inductively coupled plasma-optical emission spectroscopy analyses of macro- and micro-nutrients revealed that the presence of copper sulfate in the growth medium of Petri-dish grown Prosopis pubescens seedlings resulted in dramatic decreases of magnesium, potassium and phosphorus. At 500-600 mg/L of copper sulfate, a substantial increase of sulfur was present in roots.