The Ability of Watercress (Nasturtiumofficinale) and Pennyroyal (Menthapulegium) in Clean up Excess Nitrate and Phosphate of Water

Document Type : Research Article


1 Razi University

2 Culture and Research (ACECR), Kermanshah


Introduction: There is necessary to clean up the nitrate and phosphate from surface waters before effluence of them to environment and eutrophication formation because of water health importance and considering to nitrate and phosphate consequences. Nitrate and ammonium as the - forms of inorganic and nitrogen have been subjected to the center of issues related to environment pollutants and water resources in a long time. The nitrate is more important than other inorganic nitrogen forms such as ammonium because of various reasons such as high dynamics and causing diseases such as some of digestion system and lymph nodes cancers in adults and methemoglobinemia in infants. Therefore the maximum concentration of this ion in drinking water has been determined as 45 mg.Lit-1 by WHO. Regarding the importance of the water health and the complications due to existence of some compounds such as nitrate and phosphate, in this experiment, the possibility of elimination or decreasing excess nitrate and phosphate from water in hydroponic conditions using of two watercress and pennyroyal plants was evaluated. Watercress(Nasturtiumofficinale) and pennyroyal (Menthapulegium)were selected because of some properties such as adaptability with the most climates of Iranamd less requirements care.
Materials and Methods: Two RCD factorial experiments were carried out to evaluate the ability of watercress and pennyroyal to biosorption of nitrate and phosphate from polluted water in hydroponic conditions. First factor was plant species including watercress and pennyroyal. Second factor included nitrate (50, 100, 150 Mg/L) and phosphate (5, 10, 15 Mg/L) in first and second experiment respectively.The final concentrations of nitrate and phosphate in water was measured using spectrophotometer in wavelength of 410 nm and 690 nm by sulphatebrucine and chloride methods , respectively, which are mentioned in Standard Methods for the Examination of Water and Wastewater. At the end of the each experiment, watercress and pennyroyal plants were brought out from the pots carefully and their roots and shoots were separated. Roots and shoots were placed in aluminum foil separately and were dried by oven method (50°C and 48 h). The weights of dried samples were measured by a digital balance scale (0.001 gr accuracy). Three accumulation indices including Bio-concentration Factor, Translocation Factor and Tolerance Index were calculated by measuring of nitrate and phosphate accumulation in roots and shoots
Results and Discussion: According to the results, root phosphate accumulation in two plants was different significantly (p ≤ 0.05). Also, the level values of nitrate and phosphate were resulted to their root accumulation significantly. In this regard, the phosphate accumulation in watercress root changed to 10 mg. Lit-1 significantly and reached to 4.3 mg.Kg-1 dry weight in this concentration. While for pennyroyal, there was no significant increasing in roots phosphate accumulation when its concentration was increased in medium (p ≤ 0.05). Although phosphate accumulation was difference between the two plants in root and shoots, there was similar the alteration of phosphor bioconcentration trend. Because increasing of phosphate concentration resulted in significant decreasing of this index. Whilst both of watercress and pennyroyal accumulated high amount of nitrate and phosphate, quantity of accumulation in shoots was higher than of roots. Consequently, nitrate translocation factor was 1.3 in watercress and 1.07 in pennyroyal, and phosphor translocation factor was 1.07 and 0.94 in watercress and pennyroyal respectively.
Conclusions: Results indicated that two plants were pollutants purified of nitrate and phosphate (The nitrate translocation factors were 1.3 and 1.07 in watercress and pennyroyal and the phosphate translocation factors were 1.07 and 094 in watercress and pennyroyal, respectively). Generally, it was found that watercress and pennyroyal have extractive behavior completely about nitrate and phosphate. Because of the high ability of these plants in biosorption of phosphate and nitrate, with recovery of nitrogen and phosphorus cycle, they can be used as organic resources of nitrogen and phosphor supply in agricultural soil and prevent from entrancing them to seas. It is more important about phosphate, which has slowly cycle. Therefore two main roles for watercress and pennyroyal in aquatic ecosystems are expected. First, perform as bio-filter and returning the nitrogen and phosphor from surface water or wastewater for preventing the environmental pollution and second as secondary saleable or utilizable crop such as green manure and so on.


1- Ahmadi H., Akbarpour V., Dashti F., and Shojaeian A.A. 2010. Effect of different levels of nitrogen fertilizer on yield, nitrate accumulation and several quantitative attributes of five Iranian spinach accessions. American-Eurasian Journal of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences, 8(4):468-473.
2- Al-Qurainy F., and Abdel Megeed A. 2009. Phytoremediation and detoxification of two organophosphorous pesticides residues in Riyadh area. World Applied Sciences Journal, 6 (7): 987-998.
3- Bose S., Vedamati J., Rai V., and Ramanathan A.L. 2008. Metal uptake and transport by Tyahaangustata L. grown on metal contaminated waste amended soil: Geoderma, 145(1–2): 136–142. 145.
4- Cataldo D.A., Haroon M., Schrader L.E., and Youngs V.L. 1975. Rapid colorimetric determination of nitrate in plant tissue by nitrification of salicylic acid. Communication in Soil Science and Plant Analysis, 6(1):71-80.
5- Chen W., Luo J.K., and Shen Q.R. 2005. Effect of NH+4_N/NO-3_N ratios on growth and some physiological parameters of Chinese cabbage cultivars. Pedosphere, 15(3): 310-320.
6- Dyer DJ. 2006. Effectiveness of aquatic phytoremediation of nutrients (Nasturtiumofficinale), Basil (Ocimumbasilicum), dill and lettuce (Lactucasativa) from effluent of a flow-through operation. Thesis (M.S.), West Virginia University, 2006.
7- Golterman, H.L. 2004. The Chemistry of Phosphate and Nitrogen Compounds in Sediments. Springer NetherlandsPlubishers.
8- Green D.G., Ferguson W.S., and Warder F.G. 1973. Accumulation of Toxic Levels of Phosphorus in the Levels of Phosphorus. Deficient Barley. Ganiadian Journal of Plant Science, 53:241-246.
9- Green R.H., Bailey R.C., Hinch S.G., Metcalfe J.L., and Young V.H. 1989. Use of freshwater mussels (Bivalvia: Unionidae) to monitor the nearshore environment of lakes. Journal of Great Lakes Research, 7(8): 635-644.
10- Jalali M. 2005. Nitrates leaching from agricultural land in Hamadan, Western Iran. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment, 110(3–4): 210–218.
11- Jones J.B. 2001. Laboratory guide forconducting soil test and plant analysis. CRC.Press.
12- Jonoubi R. 1998. Contamination of water supply sources and prevent procedures it. West Azarbaijan rural water and Wastewater Company. Available at (in Persian with English abstract)
13- Kalantari N., and Naseri H. 2001. Study changes of nitrate in GorganQarasou groundwater basin. Fifth Conference of Geological Society of Iran, Tehran, 28-30 August. (in Persian with English abstract)
14- Lu Q. 2009. Evaluation of Aquatic Plants for Phytoremediation of Eutrophic Stormwaters. Thesis (PhD), University of Florida
15- Lu Q., He Z.L., Graetz D.A., Stoffella P.J., and Yang X. 2008. Phytoremediation to remove nutrients and improve eutrophic stormwaters using water lettuce (Pistiastratiotes L.).Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 17(1):84-96.
16- Meychik N.R., Yermakov I.P., Khonarmand S.D., and NikolaevaYu.I. 2009. Ion-Exchange Properties of Cell Walls in Chickpea Cultivars with Different Sensitivities to Salinity. Russian Journal of Plant Physiology, 57(5): 620-630.
17- Odjegba V.J., and Fasidi I.O.2007. Phytoremediation of Heavy Metals by Eichhorniacrassipes. The Environmentalist, 27(3):349-355.
18- Rabie G.H. 2005. Contribution of arbuscularmycorrhizal fungus to red kidney and wheat plants tolerance grown in heavy metal-polluted soil, African Journal of Biotechnology, 4(4): 332-345.
19- Reed A.J., and Hageman R.H. 1980. Relationship between nitrate uptake, flux, and reduction and the accumulation of reduced nitrogen in maize (Zea mays L.). Plant Physiology, 66:1184-1189.
20- Romero J.A., Brix H., and Comin F.A. 1999. Interativeeffects of N and P on growth, nutrient allocation andNH4-uptake kinetics by Phragmitesaustralis. AquaticBotany, 64:369–380.
21- Roskowski J., Motyka J., and Roskowski K. 2005. Nitrate in water of the vadose and phreatic zones, Crocow Jurassic-Poland. Proceedings of European meeting of the International Association of Hydrogeologists, Wisla, Poland, 4-7 June 2002.
22- Ruiz M., and Velasco J. 2009. Nutrient Bioaccumulation in Phragmitesaustralis: Management tool for reduction of pollution in the Mar Menor. Water, Air and Soil Pollution, 205:173–185.
23- Sagehashi M., Kawazoe A., Fujii T., Hu H.Y., and Sakoda A. 2009. Cadmium removal by the hydroponic culture of Giant Reed (Arundodonax) and its concentration in the plant. Journal of Water and Environment Technology, 7 (2):143-154.
24- Samadi M.T., Saghi M.H., Ghadiri K., Hadi M., and Beikmohammadi M. 2010. Performance of simple nano zeolite Y and modified nano zeolite Y in phosphor removal from aqueous solutions. Iranian Journal of Health & Environment, 3(1):27-36. (in Persian with English abstract).
25- Smith, E.N. 2007. Watercress (Nasturtium officinale) production utilizing Brook Trout (Salvelinusfontinalis) flow-through aquaculture effluent. (M.S.), West Virginia University.
26- Sparks, D.L. 2003. Environmental soil chemistry. Academic Press, Elsevier Second Edition.
27- Van Oostrom A.J., and Russell J.M. 1994. Denitrification in Constructed Wastewater Wetlands Receiving High Concentrations of Nitrate. Water Science and Technology, 29(4): 7–14
28- Wang Z.H., and Li S.X. 1996. Relationships between nitrate contents and water, total N as well as total P in different organs of vegetable plants. Plant Nutrition and Fertilizer Science, 2(2):144–152.
29- Wilkins D.A. 1978. The measurement of tolerance to edaphic factors by means of root growth. New Phytology, 80: 623–633.