Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Civil and Environmental Engineering

Committee Chair(s)

William J Doucette


William J Doucette


Bruce Bugbee


David K. Stevens


Trace amounts of xenobiotic organic contaminants have been frequently identified in the environment, including surface water and wastewater streams, and some are even in drinking water. The concern of unintended ingestion by humans or wildlife of such compounds resulting from the uptake by plants has risen in recent years. Although the uptake of a variety of xenobiotic organic contaminants by plants has been reported and the contaminants are found in the fruits in some cases, the differences between plant species are not fully understood. The emphasis of this research is to investigate the unique uptake ability of zucchini that has been reported repeatedly in recent years. Xylem saps, collected using a pressure chamber technique, were used to determine the values of Transpiration Stream Concentration Factor (TSCF), the ratio of the contaminant concentration in the xylem to that in the solution. Soybean "hoyt," squash "zephyr," and zucchini "gold rush" were used to compare the uptake ability of each plant. The root tissue was analyzed for total carbon and lipid content. Xylem sap was analyzed for total organic carbon and protein contents. The solubilities of the compounds in the xylem sap and deionized water were also determined using a modified shake flask method. From the measurement of TSCF, the uptake of hydrophobic contaminants in zucchini "gold rush" was found to be three-to tenfold of the other two plant species. The lipid content of the root tissue from zucchini "gold rush" was twice as much of that in soybean and squash "zephyr," indicating enhanced adsorption of the hydrophobic compounds. The solubility of triclocarban in the xylem sap of zucchini "gold rush" was also twice the amount of that in soybean xylem sap. The enhanced solubility could be a result of high protein content measured in zucchini "gold rush" xylem sap, which may be increasing the facilitated transport of the hydrophobic compounds. The data generated in this study will be used to better understand the mechanistic differences associated with the plant uptake of organic contaminants by different species. This information can also be used in the selection of the plant species used in risk assessment studies and phytoremediation studies.




This work made publicly available electronically on July 30, 2012.