Research Article

Estimating genetic potential of biofuel forest hardwoods to withstand metal toxicity in industrial effluent under dry tropical conditions

Abstract

Biofuel tree species are recognized as a promising alternative source of fuel to conventional forms. Additionally, these tree species are also effective in accumulating toxic heavy metals present in some industrial effluents. In developing countries such as Pakistan, the use of biofuel tree species is gaining popularity not only for harvesting economical and environmentally friendly biofuel, but also to sequester poisonous heavy metals from industrial wastewater. This study was aimed at evaluating the genetic potential of two biofuel species, namely, Jatropha curcas and Pongamia pinnata, to grow when irrigated with industrial effluent from the Pak-Arab Fertilizer Factory Multan, Southern Punjab, Pakistan. The growth performances of one-year-old seedlings of both species were compared in soil with adverse physiochemical properties. It was found that J. curcas was better able to withstand the toxicity of the heavy metals present in the fertilizer factory effluent. J. curcas showed maximum gain in height, diameter, and biomass production in soil irrigated with 75% concentrated industrial effluent. In contrast, P. pinnata showed a significant reduction in growth in soil irrigated with more than 50% concentrated industrial effluent, indicating that this species is less tolerant to higher toxicity levels of industrial effluent. This study identifies J. curcas as a promising biofuel tree species that can be grown using industrial wastewater.

Biofuel tree species are recognized as a promising alternative source of fuel to conventional forms. Additionally, these tree species are also effective in accumulating toxic heavy metals present in some industrial effluents. In developing countries such as Pakistan, the use of biofuel tree species is gaining popularity not only for harvesting economical and environmentally friendly biofuel, but also to sequester poisonous heavy metals from industrial wastewater. This study was aimed at evaluating the genetic potential of two biofuel species, namely, Jatropha curcas and Pongamia pinnata, to grow when irrigated with industrial effluent from the Pak-Arab Fertilizer Factory Multan, Southern Punjab, Pakistan. The growth performances of one-year-old seedlings of both species were compared in soil with adverse physiochemical properties. It was found that J. curcas was better able to withstand the toxicity of the heavy metals present in the fertilizer factory effluent. J. curcas showed maximum gain in height, diameter, and biomass production in soil irrigated with 75% concentrated industrial effluent. In contrast, P. pinnata showed a significant reduction in growth in soil irrigated with more than 50% concentrated industrial effluent, indicating that this species is less tolerant to higher toxicity levels of industrial effluent. This study identifies J. curcas as a promising biofuel tree species that can be grown using industrial wastewater.