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Lead (Pb) accumulation in soils affects plants primarily through their root systems. The aim of this study was to investigate early symptoms of the loss of membrane integrity and lipid peroxidation in root tissues and physiological adaptation mechanism to Pb in accumulating ecotypes (AE) and non-accumulating ecotypes (NAE) of Sedum alfredii under Pb stress in hydroponics. Histochemical in situ analyses, fluorescence imaging, and normal physiological analysis were used in this study. Pb accumulation in roots of both AE and NAE increased linearly with increasing Pb levels (0-200 μM), and a significant difference between both ecotypes was noted. Both loss of plasma membrane integrity and lipid peroxidation in root tissues became serious with increasing Pb levels, maximum tolerable Pb level was 25 and 100 μM for NAE and AE, respectively. Pb supplied at a toxic level caused a burst of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in root cells in both ecotypes. However, the root cells of AE had inherently higher activities of superoxide dismutase (SOD), guaiacol peroxidase (POD), and lipoxygenase (LOX) in control plants, and the induction response of these antioxidant enzymes occurred at lower Pb level in AE than NAE. AE plants maintained higher ascorbic acid and H(2)O(2) concentrations in root cells than NAE when exposed to different Pb levels, and Pb induced more increase in dehydroascorbate (DHA), catalase (CAT), and ascorbate peroxidase (APX) in AE than NAE roots. Results indicate that histochemical in situ analyses of root cell death and lipid peroxidation under Pb short-term stress was sensitive, reliable, and fast. Higher tolerance in roots of accumulating ecotype under Pb stress did depend on effective free oxygen scavenging by making complex function of both constitutively higher activities and sensitive induction of key antioxidant enzymes in root cells of S. alfredii.


Huagang Huang, D K Gupta, Shengke Tian, Xiao-e Yang, Tingxuan Li. Lead tolerance and physiological adaptation mechanism in roots of accumulating and non-accumulating ecotypes of Sedum alfredii. Environmental science and pollution research international. 2012 Jun;19(5):1640-51

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PMID: 22146912

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