Sustainability | 2021
On the Capability of the Epigeous Organs of Phragmites australis to Act as Metal Accumulators in Biomonitoring Studies
With a view of shedding light on the accumulation capability of the epigeous organs of common reed (Phragmites australis), employed worldwide in metal biomonitoring, an accumulation study of Cd, Cr, Cu, Fe, Mn, Ni, Pb and Zn was performed, focusing on leaves belonging to different whorls and culms. To this end, in five sampling sites on the littoral zone of the volcanic Lake Averno (Italy), and in one occasion (autumn) before plant senescence, leaves of different ages and culms were collected and analyzed for metal concentrations. In terms of the suitability for biomonitoring, culms demonstrated poor performances in relation to the low metal accumulation and the difficulties in sampling and processing, whereas leaves proved their effectiveness in highlighting whole plant exposure. Since the accumulation degree of Cr, Cu, Fe and Zn is unaffected by leaf age, the pooling of leaves from different whorls is advisable to improve the representativeness of samplings. This strategy becomes mandatory in the case of Ni, the non-monotonic age-dependent variations of which would affect the derivation of contamination gradients otherwise. For Mn, Cd and Pb, the accumulation patterns strictly dependent on age can instead be exploited in selecting the sensitivity of biomonitoring by focusing on the organs where they are preferentially accumulated: old leaves for Mn and young leaves for Cd and Pb.