Assessment of the phytoremediation potential and an adaptive response of Festuca rubra L. sown on fly ash deposits: Native grass has a pivotal role in ecorestoration management
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© 2016 Elsevier B.V.
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Fly ash (FA) is a coal combustion by-product of thermal power plants, and has been recognized as a great environmental and health hazard worldwide. The establisment of a permanent green cover on fly ash deposits is essential and can be achieved by sowing the native plant species that should be crucial for stability and resilience of an ecosystem. Improved understanding of species' response to unfavorable properties offly ash provides key insight into the decision about ecorestoration practice and management. Therefore, long-term research based on the assessment of the phytoremediation potential and adaptive response of Festuca rubra L. (red fescue) sown on the fly ash deposits at the thermoelectric power plant 'Nikola Tesla-A' in Obrenovac (Serbia) was the main concern. Field research was carried out on the passive FA lagoons (L3-the lagoons 3 years old and L2-the lagoons 11 years old) and in the Botanical Garden iijevremovacii in Belgrade (CS-control site). The physico-chemical properties of soil and fly ash were determined by using standard soil analyses. The element concentrations in soils, fly ash and plants were determined by using ICP-OES. Chlorophyll a fluorescence parameters were measured by using the Plant Stress Meter. Pigments, phenolics and malonyldialdehide contents (MDA) in leaves were measured spectrophotometrically and the total antioxidant capacity in plant leaves was determined by using DPPH free radical. Site-dependent variations were observed for all the parameters examined. FA contains alkaline pH, high electrical conductivity (EC) and low total nitrogen (N) coupled with toxic elements i.e. As and B as well as deficiency of Mn and Zn. Improvement of the physico-chemical characteristics of FA over time is reflected in the increased values of higroscopic water (HW), silt, clay, the amount of adsorbed bases (S), total adsorption capacity (T) and the reduced concentrations of total and available As. B. Cu, Zn and Mn ( except available As content) indicating favorable fly ash conditions. F. rubra is an excluder plant, it retains a larger content of As. Cu, Mn and Zn in roots than in leaves and with extensive root system it can provide good fly ash stabilization, i.e. this species has a great potential in phytoremediation of FA. Furthermore, results show that F. rubra sown on the FA deposits has a high amount of MDA and reduced values of chlorophyll a fluorescence parameters (Fm. Fv. Fv/Fm. Fm/Fo). chlorophylls (Chi a, Chi a +b) and total carotenoids (Tot Ca rot) indicating high oxidative stress and lower efficiency of photosynthesis. However, in spite of toxic concentrations of As and B and low content of Cu. Mn and Zn in the leaves. this species has high potential to activate adaptive mechanisms, such as increased biosynthesis of anthocyanins, phenolics, ascorbic acid and total radical scavenging activity. Taken together, F. rubra possesses high adaptive capacity to perform functional ecorestoration on fly ash deposits. These findings indicate that F. rubra can be identified as a vital element for large-scale reclamation purpose.