Indexed on: 11 Jul '14Published on: 11 Jul '14Published in: Environmental Monitoring and Assessment
Eichhornia crassipes (Mart.) Solms. plantlets were grown in 0.1 and 1.0 ppm treatment solutions of Hoagland's hydroponic solutions modified with Hg(NO₃)2 in order to examine the specific cellular and biochemical mechanisms involved in the tolerance of this plant exposed to mercury. This study assessed the responses of chloroplast pigments, i.e., carotenoids and chlorophylls, and evaluated the enzymatic and nonenzymatic antioxidant systems. Inductively coupled plasma-atomic emission spectrometry (ICP-AES) revealed varying Hg(2+) levels in the young and mature leaf tissues, with greater amounts of Hg(2+) found in the tissues of the young leaves. Total chlorophyll levels, notably those of chlorophyll a, chlorophyll b, and carotenoids, showed significant elevation in young leaf tissues, while a decrease in their levels was observed in mature leaf tissues in comparison to those of the control plants. These results lend support to the protective role of increased chlorophyll and carotenoid levels in the photosynthetic apparatus of young E. crassipes leaves in the presence of Hg(2+). The antioxidant responses of Hg-treated E. crassipes plants were also measured, revealing a highly significant increase in catalase units, catalase and ascorbate peroxidase activities, and mercury-binding thiols in leaves from Hg-treated plants. Moreover, substantial differences in the degree of oxidative injury between the cells in leaves from the control and Hg-treated plants were evidenced by the lipid peroxidation activities monitored. The Hg-treatment-induced significant decrease in malondialdehyde (MDA) levels was observed in 0.1-ppm Hg(NO₃)2-exposed plants, while a highly significant increase in MDA levels was noted in 1.0-ppm Hg(NO₃)2-exposed plants. The high degree of lipid peroxidation at 1.0-ppm Hg treatment was evidently counteracted by the compensatory protective mechanism brought about by the increased levels in chloroplast pigments and the enhanced activities of the antioxidant systems. E. crassipes responded to mercury treatments by enhancing the synthesis of chlorophyll and carotenoid pigments, enzymatic, and nonenzymatic antioxidant substances, concomitantly increasing the antioxidative activities, thus rendering E. crassipes capable of tolerating Hg-induced stress. The potential of E. crassipes as a phytoremediator is evident.