Potential of Sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.) for Phytoremediation of Soils Contaminated with Heavy Metals

A field study was conducted to evaluate the efficacy of the sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.) for phytoremediation of contaminated soils. The experiment was performed on an agricultural field contaminated by the Non-Ferrous-Metal Works near Plovdiv, Bulgaria. Field experiments with a randomized, complete block design with five treatments (control, compost amendments added at 20 and 40 t/daa, and vemicompost amendments added at 20 and 40 t/daa) were carried out. The accumulation of heavy metals in the sunflower plant and the quality of the sunflower oil (heavy metals and fatty acid composition) were determined. The tested organic amendments significantly influenced the uptake of Pb, Zn and Cd by the sunflower plant. The incorporation of 40 t/decare of compost and 20 t/decare of vermicompost to the soil led to an increase in the ability of the sunflower to take up and accumulate Cd, Pb and Zn. Sunflower can be subjected to the accumulators of Pb, Zn and Cd and can be successfully used for phytoremediation of contaminated soils with heavy metals. The 40 t/daa compost treatment led to a decrease in heavy metal content in sunflower oil to below the regulated limits. Oil content and fatty acids composition were affected by compost and vermicompost amendment treatments. Adding compost and vermicompost increased the oil content in the seeds. Adding organic amendments increased the content of stearic, palmitoleic and oleic acids, and reduced the content of palmitic and gadoleic acids in sunflower oil. The possibility of further industrial processing of seeds to oil and use of the obtained oil will make sunflowers economically interesting crops for farmers of phytoremediation technology.

Effects of Molybdenum Treatments on Maize and Sunflower Seedlings

The aim of the present study was to examine whether increasing molybdenum (Mo) concentration affects the growth and Mo concentration of maize (Zea mays L. cv Norma SC) and sunflower (Helianthus annuus L. cv Arena PR) seedlings within laboratory conditions. In this experiment, calcareous chernozem soil was used and Mo was supplemented into the soil as ammonium molybdate [(NH4)6Mo7O24.4H2O] in four different concentrations as follow: 0 (control), 30, 90 and 270 mg·kg-1. In this study, we found that molybdenum in small amount (30 mg·kg-1) affects positively on growth of maize and sunflower seedlings, however, higher concentration of Mo reduces the dry weights of shoots and roots. In the case of maize the highest Mo treatment (270 mg·kg-1) and in sunflower 90 mg·kg-1 treatment caused significant reduction in plant growth. In addition, we observed that molybdenum contents in the roots and shoots were very low in case of control soil but were significantly elevated with increasing concentration of Mo treatment. Only in case of sunflower the highest 270 mg·kg-1 Mo treatment caused decrease in Mo concentration.

Evaluation of SSR Markers Associated with High Oleic Acid in Sunflower

Sunflower oil with high oleic acid content is most desirable because of its high oxidative stability. Screening sunflower of high oleic acid using conventional method is laborious and time consuming. Therefore, the use of molecular markers as a screening tool is promising. The objective of this research was to evaluate SSR primers for high oleic acid content in sunflower. Two sunflower lines, 5A and PI 649855 were used as the representative of low and high oleic acid sunflowers, respectively, and thirty seven SSR markers were used to identify oleic acid content trait. The results revealing 10 SSR primers showed polymorphic between high and low oleic acid lines and thus were informative. With these primers, therefore, it is possible to identify the genetic markers associated with high oleic acid trait in sunflower genotypes. 

Effect of VA-Mycorrhiza on Growth and Yield of Sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.) at Different Phosphorus Levels

The effect of seed inoculation by VA- mycorrhiza and different levels of phosphorus fertilizer on growth and yield of sunflower (Azargol cultivar) was studied in experiment farm of Islamic Azad University, Karaj Branch during 2008 growing season. The experiment treatments were arranged in factorial based on a complete randomized block design with three replications. Four phosphorus fertilizer levels of 25%, 50% 75% and 100% P recommended with two levels of Mycorrhiza: with and without Mycorrhiza (control) were assigned in a factorial combination. Results showed that head diameter, number of seeds in head, seed yield and oil yield were significantly higher in inoculated plants than in non-inoculated plants. Head diameter, number of seeds in head, 1000 seeds weight, biological yield, seed yield and oil yield increased with increasing P level above 75% P recommended in non-inoculated plants, whereas no significant difference was observed between 75% and 100% P recommended. The positive effect of mycorrhizal inoculation decreased with increasing P levels due to decreased percent root colonization at higher P levels. According to the results of this experiment, application of mycorrhiza in present of 50% P recommended had an appropriate performance and could increase seed yield and oil production to an acceptable level, so it could be considered as a suitable substitute for chemical phosphorus fertilizer in organic agricultural systems.

Effect of Indole-3-Acetic Acid on Arsenic Translocation in Agricultural Crops

The problem of agricultural-soil pollution is closely linked to the production of ecologically pure foodstuffs and to human health. An important task, therefore, is to rehabilitate agricultural soils with the help of state-of-the-art biotechnologies, based on the use of metal-accumulating plants. In this work, on the basis of literature data and the results of prior research from this laboratory, plants were selected for which the growing technology is well developed and which are widespread locally: sugar sorghum (Sorghum saccharatum), sudangrass (Sorghum sudanense (Piper.) Stapf.), and sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.). I report on laboratory experiments designed to study the influence of synthetic indole-3- acetic acid and the extracellular indole-3-acetic acid released by the plant-growth-promoting rhizobacterium Azospirillum brasilense Sp245 on growth of and arsenic accumulation by these plants.

Salinity on Survival and Early Development of Biofuel Feedstock Crops

Salinity level may affect early development of biofuel feedstock crops. The biofuel feedstock crops canola (Brassica napus L.), sorghum [Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench], and sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.); and the potential feedstock crop sweet corn (Zea mays L.) were planted in media in pots and treated with aqueous solutions of 0, 0.1, 0.5 and 1.0 M NaCl once at: 1) planting; 2) 7-10 days after planting or 3) first true leaf expansion. An additional treatment (4) comprised of one-half strength of the 0.1, 0.5 and 1.0 M (concentrations 0.05, 0.25, 0.5 M at each application) was applied at first true leaf expansion and four days later. Survival of most crops decreased below 90% above 0.5 M; survival of canola decreased above 0.1 M. Application timing had little effect on crop survival. For canola root fresh and dry weights improved when application was at plant emergence; for sorghum top and root fresh weights improved when the split application was used. When application was at planting root dry weight was improved over most other applications. Sunflower top fresh weight was among the highest when saline solutions were split and top dry weight was among the highest when application was at plant emergence. Sweet corn root fresh weight was improved when the split application was used or application was at planting. Sweet corn root dry weight was highest when application was at planting or plant emergence. Even at high salinity rates survival rates greater than what might be expected occurred. Plants that survived appear to be able to adjust to saline during the early stages of development.

Effects of Ultrasonic Treatment on Germination of Synthetic Sunflower Seeds

One problem of synthetic sunflower cultivation is an erratic germination of the seeds. To improve the germination, presowing seed treatment with an ultrasound was tested. All treatments were carried out at 40 kHz frequency with the intensities of 40, 60, 80 and 100% of the ultrasonic generator total power (250 W) for the durations of 5, 10, 15 and 20 minutes. Data on seed germination percentage, seed vigor index (SVI), root and shoot lengths of seedlings were collected. The results showed that germination, SVI, root and shoot lengths of ultrasonic treated seedlings were different from the control, depending on intensity of the ultrasound. The effects of ultrasonic treatment were significant on germination, resulting in a maximum increase of 43% at 40 and 60% intensities compared to that of the control seeds. In addition, seedlings of these 2 treatments had higher SVI and longer root and shoot lengths than that of the control seedlings. All treatment durations resulted in higher germination and SVI, longer root and higher shoot lenghts of seedlings than the control. Among the duration treatments, only SVI and seedling root length were significantly different.