Absorption of copper(II) by creosote bush (Larrea tridentata): Use of atomic and x-ray absorption spectroscopy



Larrea tridentata (creosote bush), a common North American native desert shrub, exhibits the ability to take up copper(II) ions rapidly from solution. Following hydroponic studies, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency method 200.3 was used to digest the plant samples, and flame atomic absorption spectroscopy (FAAS) was used to determine the amount of copper taken up in different parts of the plant. The amount of copper(II) found within the roots, stems, and leaves was 13.8, 1.1, and 0.6 mg/g, respectively, after the creosote bush was exposed to a 63.5-ppm copper(II) solution for 48 h. When the plant was exposed to a 635-ppm copper(II) solution, the roots, stems, and leaves contained 35.0, 10.5, and 3.8 mg/g, respectively. In addition to FAAS analysis, x-ray microfluorescence (XRMF) analysis of the plant samples provided further confirmation of copper absorption by the various plant parts. X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS) elucidated the oxidation state of the copper absorbed by the plants. The copper(II) absorbed from solution remained as copper(II) bound to oxygen-containing ligands within the plant samples. The results of this study indicate that creosote bush may provide a useful and novel method of removing copper(II) from contaminated soils in an environmentally friendly manner.