Copper accumulation in five weed species commonly found in the understory vegetation of Mediterranean vineyards

Alessandro Mattiello, Nicola Novello, Jean Yves Cornu, Alicja Babst-Kostecka, Filip Pošćić

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Copper (Cu) concentration in agricultural soils often exceeds toxicological limits due to application of Cu-based fungicides. The potential of weeds for their use as functional cover plants in vineyard management and phytoremediation practices is little explored. We identified five weed species widely present in vineyards and assessed their Cu accumulation from eleven Mediterranean vineyards (soil Cu: 60–327 μg g−1) and two adjacent control sites (soil Cu: 15–30 μg g−1). Soils and plants were characterized by their physico-chemical properties and nutrient content. We applied multivariate techniques to analyze relationships between soil properties and leaf nutrient composition. Copper tolerance and accumulation traits were further tested in hydroponics using a series of CuSO4 concentrations (0.1–16 μM). Under field conditions, the highest Cu concentration in both roots and leaves were found in Lolium perenne (221 and 461 μg g−1, respectively), followed by Plantago lanceolata, Rumex obtusifolius and Taraxacum officinale (>100 μg g−1 Cu in leaves). Only one species, Trifolium repens, did not accumulate remarkable Cu concentrations. Overall, and as revealed by the multivariate analyses, leaf Cu concentration was driven by soil Cu content, soil texture, organic matter, nitrogen, and Cu uptake into roots. However, functional regression analysis and controlled experiments suggested that Cu might be additionally absorbed from the deposits on the leaf surface related to the Cu-fungicide treatments and soil dust. Our study highlights the importance of intra-specific variability in Cu accumulation among weed species in Cu-contaminated agricultural soils. Further validation of these findings under controlled conditions could provide essential insights for optimizing management and remediation strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number121675
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
StatePublished - Jul 15 2023


  • Air dust
  • Contamination
  • Nutrients
  • Phytoremediation
  • Tolerance
  • Toxicity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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