Biomonitoring of Epilobium hirsutum L. Health Status to Assess Water Ecotoxicity in Constructed Wetlands Treating Mixtures of Contaminants


  • Guittonny-Philippe Anna
  • Masotti Veronique
  • Rabier Jacques
  • Petit Marie-Eleonore
  • Malleret Laure
  • Coulomb Bruno
  • Laffont-Schwob Isabelle


  • Trace elements
  • Organic pollutants
  • Biomonitoring
  • Hairy willow herb
  • Phytoremediation
  • Constructed wetland
  • Wastewater

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For the treatment of wastewater containing organic pollutants and metals in constructed wetlands (CWs), phytoindicators may help in guiding management practices for plants and optimizing phytoremediation processes. Hairy willow-herb (Epilobium hirsutum L.) is a fast growing species commonly found in European CWs that could constitute a suitable phytoindicator of metal toxicity. E. hirsutum was exposed for 113 days in microcosm CWs, to a metal and metalloid mixture (MPM, containing Al, As, Cd, Cr, Cu, Fe, Mn, Ni, Pb, Sn, Zn), an organic pollutant mixture (OPM, containing hydrocarbonsC(10)-C-40, phenanthrene, pyrene, anionic detergent LAS) and an organic pollutant and metal and metalloid mixture (OMPM), separately and at concentration levels mimicking levels of industrial effluents. Analyses of metal and As concentrations in biomass, and different biometric and physiological measurements were performed. Results showed that metal uptake patterns were affected by the type of pollutant mixture, resulting in variation of toxicity symptoms in E. hirsutum plants. Some of them appeared to be similar under MPM and OMPM conditions (leaf chlorosis and tip-burning, decrease of green leaf proportion), while others were characteristic of each pollutant mixture (MPM: Decrease of water content, increase of phenol content; OMPM: reduction of limb length, inhibition of vegetative reproduction, increase of chlorophyll content and Nitrogen balance index). Results emphasize the potential of E. hirsutum as a bioindicator species to be used in European CWs treating water with metal, metalloid and organic pollutants.

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