Enhanced phytoremediation adding biodegradable amendments like low molecular weight organic acids and surfactants is an interesting area of current research to overcome the limitation that represents low bioavailability of pollutants in soils. However, prior to their use in assisted phytoremediation, it is necessary to test if amendments per se exert any toxic effect to plants and to optimize their application mode. In this context, the present study assessed the effects of citric acid and Tween (R) 80 (polyethylene glycol sorbitan monooleate) on the development of alfalfa (Medicago sativa) plants, as influenced by their concentration and frequency of application, in order to evaluate the feasibility for their future use in enhanced phytoremediation of multi-contaminated soils. The results showed that citric acid negatively affected plant germination, while it did not have any significant effect on biomass or chlorophyll content. In turn, Tween (R) 80 did not affect plant germination and showed a trend to increase biomass, as well as it did not have any significant effect on chlorophyll levels. M. sativa appeared to tolerate citric acid and Tween (R) 80 at the tested concentrations, applied weekly. Consequently, citric acid and Tween (R) 80 could potentially be utilized to assist phytoremediation of contaminated soils vegetated with M. sativa.
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