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Atrazine, a broad-leaf herbicide, has been used widely to control weeds in corn and other crops for several decades and its extensive used has led to widespread contamination of soils and water bodies. Phytoremediation with switchgrass and other native prairie grasses is one strategy that has been suggested to lessen the impact of atrazine in the environment. The goal of this study is to characterize: (1) the uptake of atrazine into above-ground switchgrass biomass; and (2) the degradation and transformation of atrazine over time. A fate study was performed using mature switchgrass columns treated with an artificially-created agricultural runoff containing 16 ppm atrazine. Soil samples and above-ground biomass samples were taken from each column and analyzed for the presence of atrazine and its chlorinated metabolites. Levels of atrazine in both soil and plant material were detectable through the first 2 weeks of the experiment but were below the limit of detection by Day 21. Levels of deethylatrazine (DEA) and didealkylatrazine (DDA) were detected in soil and plant tissue intermittently over the course of the study, deisopropylatrazine (DIA) was not detected at any time point. A radiolabel study using [14C]atrazine was undertaken to observe uptake and degradation of atrazine with more sensitivity. Switchgrass columns were treated with a 4 ppm atrazine solution, and above-ground biomass samples were collected and analyzed using HPLC and liquid scintillation counting. Atrazine, DEA, and DIA were detected as soon as 1 d following treatment. Two other metabolites, DDA and cyanuric acid, were detected at later time points, while hydroxyatrazine was not detected at all. The percentage of atrazine was observed to decrease over the course of the study while the percentages of the metabolites increased. Switchgrass plants appeared to exhibit a threshold in regard to the amount of atrazine taken up by the plants; levels of atrazine in leaf material peaked between Days 3 and 4 in both studies.


NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Chemospher. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Chemospher, 90(6); 1847-1853; February 2013. DOI#

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Elsevier Ltd.



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