Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Baldwin, Brian S.

Committee Member

Morrison, Jesse I.

Committee Member

Linhoss, Anna C.

Committee Member

Walker, Jason B.

Committee Member

Cox, Michael S.

Date of Degree


Original embargo terms

MSU Only Indefintely

Document Type

Dissertation - Campus Access Only



Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Agriculture and Life Sciences


Department of Plant and Soil Sciences


Precipitation over coal fly ash surfaces raises concerns about potential downstream impacts of dissolved selenium (Se) on aquatic ecosystems. Detention ponds hold runoff until aqueous Se concentrations meet water quality regulations: within 10 days, 90% of runoff must be discharged and cannot exceed 11.8 μg Se L-1 (ppb). Constructed wetland (CW) phytoremediation is a potential treatment option to meet these regulations. This research was conducted to 1.) Assess the potential of native southeastern aquatic macrophytes for Se tolerance and removal efficiency compared to unplanted (UNP) detention ponds; 2.) Evaluate seasonal influence on Se removal in CWs over four, weekly flood-discharge cycles; and 3.) Determine the effect of temperature on aqueous Se removal. Monoculture CW microcosms (110 L) were flooded six days with 500 or 1000 ppb Se, as selenite (SeO32-) or selenate (SeO42-) evaluating five plant species for Se tolerance. Seasonal evaluations were conducted with cattail (Typha angustifolia L.; CAT) and duckweed (Lemna minor L.; DWD) over four weekly flood-discharge cycles at 16 or 32 ppb SeO42--Se. Cattail, DWD, or UNP volatilization chambers (VCs) flooded with a 3 L solution at 35 ppb SeO42--Se were evaluated under 12 h photoperiod at either 20 or 30°C. All experiments contained a zero Se control. Water, plant, and soil total Se concentrations were determined by inductively coupled plasma-mass spectroscopy (ICP-MS) and analyzed with PROC GLM (SAS EG 7.1) at α=0.05. Cattail and DWD were selected for further evaluation with SeO42--Se. The greatest aqueous Se removal was observed in the summer (73%), followed by the fall (42%) and spring (41%), compared to winter (18%). Temperature was strongly correlated with Se removal (0.65, P<0.0001). Except for summer, after two flood-discharge cycles, CAT and DWD improved aqueous Se removal compared to UNP controls. Volatilization chamber data indicated greater Se removal at 30 (69%) compared to 20°C (54%). At 30°C, DWD decreased aqueous Se concentrations below 11.8 ppb Se within 10 days. Given their efficacy and abundance, CAT and DWD are deemed suitable species for phytoremediation in CWs supplied with Se-impacted waters.