• 1 School of Chemical Engineering, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Nibong Tebal, Malaysia
Int J Phytoremediation, 2021;23(14):1519-1524.
PMID: 33913777 DOI: 10.1080/15226514.2021.1915955


One of the challenges of integrating phytoremediation into a waste treatment system is the sensitivity of plant species to fluctuations in environmental conditions and the difficulty in estimating subsequent changes to their rates of uptake. In this study, we examine a method using the exponential decay equation to approximate the median uptake rate (MUR) of nutrients for three aquatic macrophyte species, Salvinia molesta, Spirodela polyrhiza, and Lemna minor. These MUR values were then used to directly evaluate the phytoremediation performance between species and at varying levels of salinity stress. The results of this study indicate that an exponential decay relationship produced the most accurate models of the nutrient uptake profile for each species, with highest correlation values in 74.1% of tests for the three species at increasing salinity over a period of 14 d. S. polyrhiza and L. minor began to show significant reductions in nutrient uptake and growth at salinity concentration above 10 g/L. Using MUR, direct comparisons can be made between species in a time and mass-independent manner, allowing for the rapid assessment of phytoremediation performance under conditions of increasing salinity stress. Novelty statementIn this study, we propose the use of an exponential decay model and the use of median uptake rate (MUR) obtained from the model coefficients as a method for directly comparing species performance under different conditions. Subsequently, we show how the use of MUR values obtained from three species of aquatic macrophytes allows for the direct comparison of species performance under increasing salinity stress. The method proposed in this study would improve the ability for easy comparison between species performance under varying environmental conditions. Future works could further build on the parameters proposed in this study and optimize the performance of phytoremediation systems developed for nutrient-affected wastewater management. This study is especially beneficial to phytoremediation researchers and environmental engineers who are implementing or designing macrophyte phytoremediation systems.

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