Strawberries threatened by heavy metal pollution

One problem lies with the cultivation of these tasty false fruit

by Lorenzo Ciotti
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Strawberries threatened by heavy metal pollution

Strawberry is a false fruit or aggregate fruit because it derives from a flower that had multiple pistils, each of which, after fertilization, formed an achene. The red part is none other than the enlarged receptacle. The plant, outside the reproductive system, has multiplication systems, such as the stolon, rooting lateral branching by means of which it can produce new seedlings that are in fact clones of the same plant individual.

Strawberries commonly grown today are hybrids resulting from the cross between European and American varieties. Equipped with a good calorie content due to the high sugar content, strawberries are an excellent source of vitamin C and flavonoids.

Anthocyanins belong to the flavonoid family, which seem to be responsible for the potential anti-inflammatory characteristics of strawberries. One problem lies with the cultivation of these tasty false fruit. In fact, the study Risk assessment and early warning of the presence of heavy metal pollution in strawberries, published on the Ecotoxicology and environmental safety, explained: "Heavy metal pollution is a major threat to agricultural produce and it can pose potential ecological risks which subsequently impacts on human health.

Strawberries are an economically important produce of China. The intrinsic link of heavy metal pollution risk in the soil-strawberry ecosystem is of concern. In this study, the pollution index of heavy metal pollutants in farmlands of different provinces were evaluated, and the results showed significantly high levels of cadmium.

In addition, Nemerow integrated pollution index analysis showed that low-pollution farmlands only accounted for 14.07% of the total arable land area. Then, the transfer factors were used to calculate the migration of heavy metals from the soil into strawberries.

The results showed that cadmium and nickel were relatively high in strawberries from the Guangxi province. Similar results were found for mercury in Jiangxi Province. The pollution index of single food pollution also showed that mercury in strawberries from Jiangxi Province was at a moderate pollution level.

The comprehensive pollution index indicated that heavy metal pollution in strawberries in Central China may be severe. In addition, spatial clustering analysis showed that cadmium, chromium, lead, arsenic and zinc in strawberries had significant hotspot clustering in central, south and southwest China.

Finally, our studies also suggested that the risk of carcinogenic and non-carcinogenic diseases was higher in the years age group than in other age groups. People in Yunnan Province were also found to have a higher non-carcinogenic risk than those in other provinces and cities in China.

This study provides a comprehensive view of the potential risks of heavy metal contamination in strawberries, which could provide assistance in the design of regulatory and risk management programs for chemical pollutants in strawberries, thus ensuring the safety of consumption of these edible fruits. "