Rhizosphere properties and heavy metal accumulation of plants growing in the fly ash dumpsite, Morupule power plant, Botswana

Katumelo Gajaje, Venecio U. Ultra, Pearl Wathuto David, Gaolathe Rantong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Discarding fly ash from a coal power plant into a dumpsite does not only contribute to deforestation and loss of productive land but also leads to contamination of air, soil, and groundwater. Therefore, fly ash should be managed properly to avoid the migration of contaminants. One management option is phytoremediation using adapted plants and as a prerequisite, there is a need to identify suitable plants that can be used for revegetation of fly ash dumpsites. To identify prospective plants, a survey was carried out by assessing the plants growing in Morupule B fly ash dumpsite based on their ability to accumulate heavy metals and their bioconcentration (BAF) and translocation factors (TF). Of the twenty-two-plant species growing in the fly ash dumpsite of Morupule B power plant station, N. glauca is a potential phytoextraction agent for Cu (TFCu = 1.02; BAFCu = 2.16) and Pb (TFPb = 1.38; BAFPb = 1.65); P. burchellii for Pb (TFPb = 1.61, BAFPb = 0.9) and Zn (TFZn = 1.35; BAFZn = 5.74); I. pes-tigridis for Pb (TFPb = 1.35; BAFPb = 1.56) and Zn (TFZn = 1.62; BAFZn = 7.43); A. pungens for Cr (TFCr = 1.22; BAFCr = 0.11), Cu (TFCu = 2.18; BAFCu = 1.14), and Zn (TFZn = 1.04; BAFZn = 1.44); E. hirta for Zn (TFZn = 1.54, BAFZn = 2.44); A. spinosus for Pb (TFPb = 1.29; BAFPb = 1.55); C. dactylon for Cu (TFCu = 1.86; BAFCu = 1.07) and Zn (TFZn = 1.00; BAFZn = 2.46); and D. aegyptium for Pb (TFPb = 1.19; BAFPb = 2.57). Other plants growing in the fly ash dumpsite are potential candidates for phytostabilization as they can tolerate a high concentration of metals and low essential nutrients. Also, different plant groups variably modified the pH, EC, OM, and exchangeable fractions of metals in the rhizosphere wherein grasses can increase the OM at higher rates, and it has a higher capacity to acidify and solubilize heavy metals in the rhizosphere leading to higher EC and available metals compared to other plant groups. Overall, the information presented is useful in identifying plants or their combinations for the phytoremediation of fly ash and other heavy metal-polluted environments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20637-20649
Number of pages13
JournalEnvironmental Science and Pollution Research
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - Jan 6 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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