Heavy metals, Co, Ni, Cu, Zn and Cd, produce oxidative damage and evoke differential antioxidant responses in spinach


Brazilian Journal of Plant Physiology




Exposure of 10-d-old spinach (Spinacea oleracea L.) plants to excess (500 µM) concentrations of Co, Ni, Cu, Zn and Cd in sand culture inhibited growth, induced toxicity symptoms, oxidative damage and changes in the antioxidant defense system. The severity of the metal-induced effects varied with the metals and the duration of exposure to excess supply of the metals. Each metal induced chlorosis. In addition, excess Co, Ni and Cd also produced metal specific toxic effects. Excess supply of each metal caused lipid peroxidation (TBARS). Their effectiveness in producing oxidative damage was in the order: Ni > Co > Cd > Cu >Zn. Of all the metals, Ni was also most effective in lowering the concentration of the chloroplast pigments (Chl, Car). While each metal increased the concentration of ascorbate and activated the key enzymes of the ascorbate-glutathione cycle, excess Cd and Zn were more effective in this regard. Each metal increased the activity of SOD and POD and decreased the activity of CAT. Enhancement in SOD activity and inhibition of CAT activity suggested high build-up of H2O2, possibly the main cause of oxidative stress, induced in response to excess supply of the heavy metals.

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