Biodegradation and effects of EDDS and NTA on Zn in soil solutions during phytoextraction by alfalfa in soils with three Zn levels

Xiaolin Wang, Marcella Fernandes de Souza, Haichao Li, Jing Qiu, Yong Sik Ok, Erik Meers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


In chelator-enhanced Zn phytoremediation studies, it is crucial to understand how the degradable chelators and the competition from other ions influence the concentration of Zn in soil solutions. This study investigated the biodegradability of two chelators (EDDS: Ethylenediamine-N,N′-disuccinic acid, and NTA: Nitrilotriacetic acid) and their effects on the Zn concentration in the soil solution during the growth of alfalfa (Medicago Sativa L.). The chelators were added at four doses (0, 0.5, 2 and 5 mmol kg−1) in soils with varying Zn levels (189, 265 and 1496 mg kg−1). The results showed that the lag phase before EDDS and NTA biodegradation varied from 0 to 7 days in the three soils. EDDS and NTA were completely decomposed within the assessed 57 days regardless of the applied dosage, with a half-life of 1.3–3.0 days in highly Zn-contaminated soil and 4.2–10.8 days in the two other soils. In soil solutions, the change in solubilized Zn was in line with EDDS and NTA degradation kinetics. Cu, Al, Fe and Mn were the main metal ions that competed against Zn for chelation. Besides, Ni competed with Zn in the whole process. Ca did not compete effectively in the three soils, while Mg was a competitor only at the initial stage. Our results show the importance of considering both the biodegradation rate and the competition between the target cation and other elements present in the soil when using chelators to enhance phytoremediation. A 30-day explorative incubation experiment is recommended to evaluate the appropriate application time of chelators and the target Zn exposure time for plants during phytoremediation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number133519
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Apr


  • Biodegradable chelators
  • Cation competition
  • Complexation
  • Zn phytoextraction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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