Special Issue "Heavy Metal Toxicity Effects on Plants"

A special issue of Toxics (ISSN 2305-6304). This special issue belongs to the section "Ecotoxicology".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 April 2022.

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Ilektra Sperdouli
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Institute of Plant Breeding and Genetic Resources, HAO-Demeter, Thermi, Greece
Interests: plant responses to abiotic stress; photoprotective and antioxidative mechanisms to abiotic stress; photosynthesis; secondary metabolites

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Although heavy metals are naturally present in the soil, geologic and anthropogenic activities increase the concentration of these elements to amounts that are harmful to plants. Some of these activities include mining and smelting of metals, burning of fossil fuels, use of fertilizers and pesticides in agriculture, and production of batteries and other metal products in industries, sewage sludge, and municipal waste disposal. Growth reduction as a result of changes in physiological and biochemical processes in plants growing on heavy metal polluted soils has been recorded. Some of the heavy metal phytotoxic manifestations include disturbance of nutrient uptake and translocation, photosynthetic reduction (decrease of photosynthetic pigments, inhibition of electron transport, decrease of CO2 fixation, chloroplast disorganization, photooxidative damage), generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS), inhibitions of antioxidative enzymes, cellular redox imbalance, DNA damage, and protein oxidation. The assessment of heavy metal toxicity effects on plants will enable the evaluation of heavy metal plant-tolerant species and their use for phytoremediation of contaminated soils.

This Special Issue will focus on highlighting timely research studies addressing heavy metal toxicity effects on plants. Authors are invited and welcome to submit original research papers, reviews, and short communications. 

Topics may include but are not limited to the following:

  1. Structural and ultrastructural malformations to heavy metal toxicity;
  2. Physiological and molecular mechanisms of plant responses to heavy metal toxicity;
  3. Antioxidant defense systems under heavy metal stress;
  4. Photooxidative damage and photoprotective mechanisms to heavy metal toxicity;
  5. Role of ROS in signaling cascades under heavy metal stress;
  6. Phytohormone changes to heavy metal stress;
  7. Phytochelatins and heavy metal toxicity.

Dr. Ilektra Sperdouli
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Toxics is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1600 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Heavy metals
  • Phytochelatins
  • Photosynthesis
  • Nutrient deficiency
  • Reactive oxygen species
  • Photooxidation
  • Enzymatic antioxidants
  • Non-enzymatic antioxidants
  • Redox state
  • Phytoremediation

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

Article
Biochar Amendment Reduces the Availability of Pb in the Soil and Its Uptake in Lettuce
Toxics 2021, 9(10), 268; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxics9100268 - 15 Oct 2021
Viewed by 248
Abstract
The aim of this study was to investigate the ability of biochar amendment to reduce the availability of Pb in the soil and its uptake in lettuce (Lactuca sativa L. var. adela). Seedlings of lettuce were cultivated in Pb-contaminated soils, both [...] Read more.
The aim of this study was to investigate the ability of biochar amendment to reduce the availability of Pb in the soil and its uptake in lettuce (Lactuca sativa L. var. adela). Seedlings of lettuce were cultivated in Pb-contaminated soils, both with and without 5% biochar (w/w), as well as in a simplified soilless system (hydroponics) at the ecologically relevant Pb concentration of 100 µM, both with and without 1% biochar. Soils amended with biochar resulted in a ca. 50% reduction of the extractable (bioavailable) fraction of Pb, limiting the accumulation of this toxic element in the leaves of lettuce by ca. 50%. A similar behavior was observed for lettuce plants grown hydroponically, even with a much higher reduction of Pb uptake (ca. 80%). Increased cation exchange capacity and pH were likely the main factors limiting the bioavailability of Pb in the soil. Complexation with functional groups and precipitation/co-precipitation both on the biochar surface and in soil aggregates were likely the main mechanisms immobilizing this element. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Heavy Metal Toxicity Effects on Plants)
Article
Growth and Antioxidant Responses in Iron-Biofortified Lentil under Cadmium Stress
Toxics 2021, 9(8), 182; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxics9080182 - 31 Jul 2021
Viewed by 864
Abstract
Cadmium (Cd) is a hazardous heavy metal, toxic to our ecosystem even at low concentrations. Cd stress negatively affects plant growth and development by triggering oxidative stress. Limited information is available on the role of iron (Fe) in ameliorating Cd stress tolerance in [...] Read more.
Cadmium (Cd) is a hazardous heavy metal, toxic to our ecosystem even at low concentrations. Cd stress negatively affects plant growth and development by triggering oxidative stress. Limited information is available on the role of iron (Fe) in ameliorating Cd stress tolerance in legumes. This study assessed the effect of Cd stress in two lentil (Lens culinaris Medik.) varieties differing in seed Fe concentration (L4717 (Fe-biofortified) and JL3) under controlled conditions. Six biochemical traits, five growth parameters, and Cd uptake were recorded at the seedling stage (21 days after sowing) in the studied genotypes grown under controlled conditions at two levels (100 μM and 200 μM) of cadmium chloride (CdCl2). The studied traits revealed significant genotype, treatment, and genotype × treatment interactions. Cd-induced oxidative damage led to the accumulation of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) and malondialdehyde in both genotypes. JL3 accumulated 77.1% more H2O2 and 75% more lipid peroxidation products than L4717 at the high Cd level. Antioxidant enzyme activities increased in response to Cd stress, with significant genotype, treatment, and genotype × treatment interactions (p < 0.01). L4717 had remarkably higher catalase (40.5%), peroxidase (43.9%), superoxide dismutase (31.7%), and glutathione reductase (47.3%) activities than JL3 under high Cd conditions. In addition, L4717 sustained better growth in terms of fresh weight and dry weight than JL3 under stress. JL3 exhibited high Cd uptake (14.87 mg g−1 fresh weight) compared to L4717 (7.32 mg g−1 fresh weight). The study concluded that the Fe-biofortified lentil genotype L4717 exhibited Cd tolerance by inciting an efficient antioxidative response to Cd toxicity. Further studies are required to elucidate the possibility of seed Fe content as a surrogacy trait for Cd tolerance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Heavy Metal Toxicity Effects on Plants)
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Article
Assessment of the Suitability of Melilotus officinalis for Phytoremediation of Soil Contaminated with Petroleum Hydrocarbons (TPH and PAH), Zn, Pb and Cd Based on Toxicological Tests
Toxics 2021, 9(7), 148; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxics9070148 - 25 Jun 2021
Viewed by 703
Abstract
The article presents issues related to the possibility of using toxicological tests as a tool to monitor the progress of soil treatment contaminated with petroleum substances (TPH, PAH), Zn, Pb and Cd in bio-phytoremediation processes. In order to reduce the high content of [...] Read more.
The article presents issues related to the possibility of using toxicological tests as a tool to monitor the progress of soil treatment contaminated with petroleum substances (TPH, PAH), Zn, Pb and Cd in bio-phytoremediation processes. In order to reduce the high content of petroleum pollutants (TPH = 56,371 mg kg−1 dry mass, PAH = 139.3 mg kg−1 dry mass), the technology of stepwise soil treatment was applied, including basic bioremediation and inoculation with biopreparations based of indigenous non-pathogenic species of bacteria, fungi and yeasts. As a result of basic bioremediation in laboratory conditions (ex-situ method), the reduction of petroleum pollutants TPH by 33.9% and PAH by 9.5% was achieved. The introduction of inoculation with biopraparation-1 prepared on the basis of non-pathogenic species of indigenous bacteria made it possible to reduce the TPH content by 86.3%, PAH by 40.3%. The use of a biopreparation-1 enriched with indigenous non-pathogenic species of fungi and yeasts in the third series of inoculation increased to an increase in the degree of biodegradation of aliphatic hydrocarbons with long carbon chains and PAH by a further 28.9%. In the next stage of soil treatment after biodegradation processes, which was characterized by an increased content of heavy metals (Zn, Pb, Cd) and naphthalene, chrysene, benzo(a)anthracene and benzo(ghi)perylene belonging to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, phytoremediation with the use of Melilotus officinalis was applied. After the six-month phytoremediation process, the following was achieved: Zn content by 25.1%, Pb by 27.9%, Cd by 23.2% and TPH by 42.2% and PAH by 49.9%. The rate of removal of individual groups of hydrocarbons was in the decreasing order: C12–C18 > C6–C12 > C18–C25 > C25–C36. PAHs tended to be removed in the following order: chrysene > naphthalene > benzo(a)anthracene > benzo(ghi)perylene. The TF and BCF coefficients were calculated to assess the capacity of M. officinalis to accumulate metal in tissues, uptake from soil and transfer from roots to shoots. The values of TF translocation coefficients were, respectively, for Zn (0.44), Pb (0.12), Cd (0.40). The calculated BCF concentration factors (BCFroots > BCFshoots) show that heavy metals taken up by M. officinalis are mainly accumulated in the root tissues in the following order Zn > Pb > Cd, revealing a poor metal translocation from the root to the shoots. This process was carried out in laboratory conditions for a period of 6 months. The process of phytoremediation of contaminated soil using M. officinalis assisted with fertilization was monitored by means of toxicological tests: Microtox, Ostracodtoxkit FTM, MARA and PhytotoxkitTM. The performed phytotoxicity tests have indicated variable sensitivity of the tested plants on contaminants occurring in the studied soils, following the sequence: Lepidium sativum < Sorghum saccharatum < Sinapis alba. The sensitivity of toxicological tests was comparable and increased in the order: MARA < Ostracodtoxkit FTM < Microtox. The results of the toxicological monitoring as a function of the time of soil treatment, together with chemical analyses determining the content of toxicants in soil and biomass M. officinalis, clearly confirmed the effectiveness of the applied concept of bioremediation of soils contaminated with zinc, lead and cadmium in the presence of petroleum hydrocarbons. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Heavy Metal Toxicity Effects on Plants)
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Article
Synergistic Effects of Zinc Oxide Nanoparticles and Bacteria Reduce Heavy Metals Toxicity in Rice (Oryza sativa L.) Plant
Toxics 2021, 9(5), 113; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxics9050113 - 20 May 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 803
Abstract
Heavy metals (HMs) are toxic elements which contaminate the water bodies in developing countries because of their excessive discharge from industrial zones. Rice (Oryza sativa L) crops are submerged for a longer period of time in water, so irrigation with HMs polluted [...] Read more.
Heavy metals (HMs) are toxic elements which contaminate the water bodies in developing countries because of their excessive discharge from industrial zones. Rice (Oryza sativa L) crops are submerged for a longer period of time in water, so irrigation with HMs polluted water possesses toxic effects on plant growth. This study was initiated to observe the synergistic effect of bacteria (Bacillus cereus and Lysinibacillus macroides) and zinc oxide nanoparticles (ZnO NPs) (5, 10, 15, 20 and 25 mg/L) on the rice that were grown in HMs contaminated water. Current findings have revealed that bacteria, along with ZnO NPs at lower concentration, showed maximum removal of HMs from polluted water at pH 8 (90 min) as compared with higher concentrations. Seeds primed with bacteria grown in HM polluted water containing ZnO NPs (5 mg/L) showed reduced uptake of HMs in root, shoot and leaf, thus resulting in increased plant growth. Furthermore, their combined effects also reduced the bioaccumulation index and metallothionine (MTs) content and enhanced the tolerance index of plants. This study suggested that synergistic treatment of bacteria with lower concentrations of ZnO NPs helped plants to reduce heavy metal toxicity, especially Pb and Cu, and enhanced plant growth. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Heavy Metal Toxicity Effects on Plants)
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Article
Co-Cropping Indian Mustard and Silage Maize for Phytoremediation of a Cadmium-Contaminated Acid Paddy Soil Amended with Peat
Toxics 2021, 9(5), 91; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxics9050091 - 21 Apr 2021
Viewed by 847
Abstract
Co-cropping is an eco-friendly strategy to improve the phytoremediation capacity of plants growing in soils contaminated with heavy metals such as cadmium (Cd). This study was conducted to investigate the effects of co-cropping Indian mustard (Brassicajuncea) and silage maize ( [...] Read more.
Co-cropping is an eco-friendly strategy to improve the phytoremediation capacity of plants growing in soils contaminated with heavy metals such as cadmium (Cd). This study was conducted to investigate the effects of co-cropping Indian mustard (Brassicajuncea) and silage maize (Zeamays) and applying peat on the phytoremediation of a Cd-contaminated acid paddy soil via characterizing plant growth and Cd uptake in pot experiments. There were six planting patterns (Control: no plants; MI-2 and MI-4: mono-cropping of Indian mustard at low and high densities, respectively; MS: mono-cropping of silage maize; CIS-2 and CIS-4: co-cropping of Indian mustard at low and high densities with silage maize, respectively) and two application rates of peat (NP: 0; WP: 30 g kg−1). When Indian mustard and silage maize were co-cropped, the shoot biomass of Indian mustard plants per pot was significantly (p < 0.05) lower than that obtained in the mono-cropping systems, with a substantial reduction (55–72%) in the same plant density group. The shoot biomass of silage maize plants in the mono-cropping systems did not differ significantly from that in the co-cropping systems regardless of the density of Indian mustard. The growth-promoting effect of the peat application was more pronounced in Indian mustard than silage maize. Under the low density of Indian mustard, the co-cropping systems significantly (p < 0.05) decreased Cd uptake by silage maize. Additionally, soil amendment with peat significantly (p < 0.05) increased shoot Cd removal rate and Cd translocation factor value in the co-cropping systems. Taken together, the results demonstrated that silage maize should be co-cropped with Indian mustard at an appropriate density in Cd-polluted soils to achieve simultaneous remediation of Cd-contaminated soils (via Indian mustard) and production of crops (here, silage maize). Peat application was shown to promote the removal of Cd from soil and translocation of Cd into shoots and could contribute to enhanced phytoremediation of Cd-contaminated acid paddy soil. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Heavy Metal Toxicity Effects on Plants)
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Article
Biosynthesized Iron Oxide Nanoparticles (Fe3O4 NPs) Mitigate Arsenic Toxicity in Rice Seedlings
Toxics 2021, 9(1), 2; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxics9010002 - 31 Dec 2020
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1201
Abstract
Arsenic (As) contamination has emerged as a serious public health concern worldwide because of its accumulation and mobility through the food chain. Therefore, the current study was planned to check the effect of Bacillus subtilis-synthesized iron oxide nano particles (Fe3O [...] Read more.
Arsenic (As) contamination has emerged as a serious public health concern worldwide because of its accumulation and mobility through the food chain. Therefore, the current study was planned to check the effect of Bacillus subtilis-synthesized iron oxide nano particles (Fe3O4 NP) on rice (Oryza Sativa L.) growth against arsenic stress (0, 5, 10 and 15 ppm). Iron oxide nanoparticles were extracellular synthesized from Bacillus subtilis with a desired shape and size. The formations of nanoparticles were differentiated through UV-Visible Spectroscopy, FTIR, XRD and SEM. The UV-Visible spectroscopy of Bacillus subtilis-synthesized nanoparticles showed that the iron oxide surface plasmon band occurs at 268 nm. FTIR results revealed that different functional groups (aldehyde, alkene, alcohol and phenol) were present on the surface of nanoparticles. The SEM image showed that particles were spherical in shape with an average size of 67.28 nm. Arsenic toxicity was observed in seed germination and young seedling stage. The arsenic application significantly reduced seed germination (35%), root and shoots length (1.25 and 2.00 cm), shoot/root ratio (0.289), fresh root and shoots weight (0.205 and 0.260 g), dry root and shoots weight (6.55 and 6.75 g), dry matter percentage of shoot (12.67) and root (14.91) as compared to control. Bacillus subtilis-synthesized Fe3O4 NPs treatments (5 ppm) remarkably increased the germination (65%), root and shoot length (2 and 3.45 cm), shoot/root ratio (1.24) fresh root and shoot weight (0.335 and 0.275 mg), dry root and shoot weight (11.75 and 10.6 mg) and dry matter percentage of shoot (10.40) and root (18.37). Results revealed that the application of Fe3O4 NPs alleviated the arsenic stress and enhanced the plant growth. This study suggests that Bacillus subtilus-synthesized iron oxide nanoparticles can be used as nano-adsorbents in reducing arsenic toxicity in rice plants. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Heavy Metal Toxicity Effects on Plants)
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