Integrated effect of depleted uranium and soil properties on maize (Zea mays L.) growth

Rizwan Ahmad, Muhammad Khalid, D. L. Jones, M. Mahmood-Ul-Hassan

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Abstract

Depleted Uranium (DU) is primarily composed of the isotope uranium-238 (238U). It has been identified as an emerging pollutant with the advancement of nuclear science, especially in the regions where nuclear weapons had been used in the recent past. Effect of DU on maize growth was studied by using 2 soils of contrasting characteristics (cambisol and podzol) in a growth chamber study. Both soils were amended with increasing concentrations (0, 0.5, 1.0, 2.5, 5 and 10 mM) of DU as UO2(NO3)2 and KNO3. Three day old maize seedlings were sown under optimum growth conditions and harvested after 2 weeks. Data regarding plant height, SPAD-meter reading and fresh and dry biomass were recorded and analyzed statistically. Effect of different concentrations of DU and KNO3 were also monitored on post harvest soil microbial activity through infra red gas analyzer (IRGA) respiration and substrate-induced respiration. Results revealed that there was no significant effect of DU on maize growth when compared with KNO3 for cambisol soil at all concentrations. However, dry shoot weight of maize in podzol soil decreased significantly at 10mM of DU compared to KNO3 (0.22 vs. 0.36g). Results of IRGA and substrate induced respiration revealed that there was no significant difference among CO2 evolved at various concentrations of DU and KNO3 for both soils. Overall, cambisol soil produced more maize biomass (2 folds) and higher microbial activity (up to 2.8 folds) compared to podzol soil. The study concluded that effect of DU on maize growth was directed by the soil physico-chemical properties and productivity status of 2 soils.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1587-1592
Number of pages6
JournalPakistan Journal of Botany
Volume44
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2012
Externally publishedYes

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