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Bioinorganic Chemistry and Applications
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 959764, 8 pages
Research Article

Uptake and Distribution of Cd in Sweet Maize Grown on Contaminated Soils: A Field-Scale Study

1School of Environment and Energy, South China University of Technology, Guangzhou 510006, China
2The Key Lab of Pollution Control and Ecosystem Restoration in Industry Clusters, Ministry of Education, Guangzhou 510006, China

Received 8 August 2013; Accepted 29 October 2013

Academic Editor: Imre Sovago

Copyright © 2013 Wending Xu et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Maize is an economic crop that is also a candidate for use in phytoremediation in low-to-moderately Cd-contaminated soils, because the plant can accumulate high concentration of Cd in parts that are nonedible to humans while accumulating only a low concentration of Cd in the fruit. Maize cultivars CT38 and HZ were planted in field soils contaminated with Cd and nitrilotriacetic acid (NTA) was used to enhance the phytoextractive effect of the maize. Different organs of the plant were analyzed to identify the Cd sinks in the maize. A distinction was made between leaf sheath tissue and leaf lamina tissue. Cd concentrations decreased in the tissues in the following order: sheath > root > lamina > stem > fruit. The addition of NTA increased the amount of Cd absorbed but left the relative distribution of the metal among the plant organs essentially unchanged. The Cd in the fruit of maize was below the Chinese government’s permitted concentration in coarse cereals. Therefore, this study shows that it is possible to conduct maize phytoremediation of Cd-contaminated soil while, at the same time, harvesting a crop, for subsequent consumption.