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Open AccessReview

Cadmium and Plant Development: An Agony from Seed to Seed

Environmental Biology, Centre for Environmental Sciences, Hasselt University, B-3590 Diepenbeek, Belgium
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2019, 20(16), 3971;
Received: 5 July 2019 / Revised: 8 August 2019 / Accepted: 9 August 2019 / Published: 15 August 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Heavy Metals Accumulation, Toxicity and Detoxification in Plants)
PDF [864 KB, uploaded 15 August 2019]


Anthropogenic pollution of agricultural soils with cadmium (Cd) should receive adequate attention as Cd accumulation in crops endangers human health. When Cd is present in the soil, plants are exposed to it throughout their entire life cycle. As it is a non-essential element, no specific Cd uptake mechanisms are present. Therefore, Cd enters the plant through transporters for essential elements and consequently disturbs plant growth and development. In this review, we will focus on the effects of Cd on the most important events of a plant’s life cycle covering seed germination, the vegetative phase and the reproduction phase. Within the vegetative phase, the disturbance of the cell cycle by Cd is highlighted with special emphasis on endoreduplication, DNA damage and its relation to cell death. Furthermore, we will discuss the cell wall as an important structure in retaining Cd and the ability of plants to actively modify the cell wall to increase Cd tolerance. As Cd is known to affect concentrations of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and phytohormones, special emphasis is put on the involvement of these compounds in plant developmental processes. Lastly, possible future research areas are put forward and a general conclusion is drawn, revealing that Cd is agonizing for all stages of plant development. View Full-Text
Keywords: cadmium; oxidative stress; cell cycle; cell wall; germination; reproduction; plant growth and development cadmium; oxidative stress; cell cycle; cell wall; germination; reproduction; plant growth and development

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Huybrechts, M.; Cuypers, A.; Deckers, J.; Iven, V.; Vandionant, S.; Jozefczak, M.; Hendrix, S. Cadmium and Plant Development: An Agony from Seed to Seed. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2019, 20, 3971.

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