Phytoremediation is an approach designed to extract excessive heavy metals from contaminated soils through plant uptake. Cadmium (Cd) is among the elements most toxic to living organisms. Health hazards associated with the lethal intake of Cd include renal (kidney) damage, anaemia, hypertension and liver damage. A greenhouse experiment was carried out with Indian mustard (Brassica juncea) grown on artificially spiked soil (100 μg Cd g−1) with EDTA (2 mmol kg−1 in 5 split doses), FYM, vermicompost (VC) and microbial inoculants (MI) such as Azotobacter sp. and Pseudomonas sp. The growth of Brassica juncea L. was better in soil amended with FYM or VC as compared to unamended Cd-polluted soil. Growth was slightly suppressed in EDTA-treated soil, whereas it was better after treatment with MI. The application of FYM and VC increased the dry matter yield of Indian mustard either alone or in combination with microbial inoculants, while that of EDTA caused a significant decrease in the biomass of Indian mustard. The application of microbial inoculants increased the dry matter yield of both the roots and shoots, but not significantly, because MI shows greater sensitivity towards cadmium. The maximum cadmium concentration was observed in the EDTA +MI treatment, but Cd uptake was maximum in the VC + MI treatment. The Cd concentration in the shoots increased by 120% in CdEDTA over the Cd100 treatment, followed by CdVC (65%) and CdFYM (42%) in the absence of microbial inoculants. The corresponding values in the presence of MI were 107, 51 and 37%, respectively. A similar trend was also observed in the roots in the order CdEDTA+M > CdVC+M > CdFYM+M>Cd100+M.MI caused an increase in Cd content of 5.5% in the roots and 4.1% in the shoots in the CdEDTA+M treatment compared with the CdEDTA treatment. FYM, VC and EDTA also increased Cd uptake significantly both in the shoots and roots with and without microbial inoculants.The results indicated that Vermicompost in combination with microbial inoculants is the best treatment for the phytoremediation of Cd-contaminated soil by Indian mustard, as revealed by the Cd uptake values in the shoots: CdVC+M (2265.7 μg/pot) followed by CdEDTA+M (2251.2 μg/pot), CdFYM+M (1485.7 μg/pot) and Cd100+M (993.1 μg/pot).
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