The Aquatic macrophytes as bioindicators of heavy metals contamination in estuarine ecosystems


  • Claudia Ribeiro TOXRUN – Toxicology Research Unit, University Institute of Health Sciences, CESPU, CRL, 4585-116 Gandra, Portugal.
  • Agostinho Almeida LAQV/REQUIMTE, Department of Chemical Sciences, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Porto, 4050-313 Porto, Portugal
  • Cristina Couto TOXRUN – Toxicology Research Unit, University Institute of Health Sciences, CESPU, CRL, 4585-116 Gandra, Portugal



macrophyte, bioaccumulation, trace elements, metals, bioindicators, aquatic plants


The use of aquatic plants as metal bioindicators may be a suitable tool for the management of aquatic ecosystems as they play an important role in the geochemical composition of water and sediments. This study evaluated the potential use of autochthonous aquatic macrophytes, Veronica anagallis-aquatica and Cakile maritima as bioindicators of cadmium, chromium, lead, zinc, and copper contamination in wetlands and their role on metal cycling. The content and distribution of these elements in roots, stems and leaves were compared in specimens collected in two estuaries with different anthropogenic pressures (Douro and Ave) and in the corresponding water and sediments. Differences on metals content were found on both species and were dependent on the estuary. No positive correlation was found between plant and water metals concentration, but a positive correlation was observed for sediments, except for Cr and Cd. Bioaccumulation and translocation factors showed that both species can contribute to the immobilization of Pb and Cd in Douro estuary in contrast to Ave estuary. These results demonstrate the influence of local environmental conditions in the bioaccumulation of in situ aquatic plants and suggest their potential use as bioindicators and for the management (phytoextraction and phytostabilization) of aquatic contaminated ecosystems.


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How to Cite

Ribeiro, C., Almeida, A., & Couto, C. . (2022). The Aquatic macrophytes as bioindicators of heavy metals contamination in estuarine ecosystems. Scientific Letters, 1(1), 5.



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