Indexed on: 04 Jan '17Published on: 04 Jan '17Published in: PloS one
Cadmium (Cd) and lead (Pb) are recognized as the most toxic metal ions due to their detrimental effects not only to plants, but also to humans. The objective of this study was to investigate the effects of Cd and Pb treatments on seed germination, plant growth, and physiological response in tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb.). We employed six treatments: CK (nutrient solution as control), T1 (1000 mg L-1 Pb), T2 (50 mg L-1 Cd), T3 (150 mg L-1 Cd), T4 (1000 mg L-1 Pb+50 mg L-1 Cd), T5 (1000 mg L-1 Pb+150 mg L-1 Cd). Antagonistic and synergistic actions were observed in tall fescue under Pb and Cd combined treatments. Under low Cd, plants exhibited higher relative germination rate, germ length, VSGR, catalase (CAT) and peroxidase (POD) activities. Additionally, in the shoots, the gene expression level of Cu/Zn SOD, FeSOD, POD, GPX, translocation factors, MDA, EL, and soluble protein contents were reduced under Pb stress. Conversely, under high Cd level, there was a decline in NRT, Pb content in shoots, Pb translocation factors, CAT activity; and an increase in VSGR, Pb content in roots, gene expression level of Cu/ZnSOD and POD in tall fescue exposed to Pb2+ regimes. On the other hand, tall fescue plants treated with low Cd exhibited lower relative germination rate, germination index, germ length, NRT, Cd content in roots. On the other hand there was higher Cd content, Cd translocation factor, CAT and POD activities, and gene expression level of Cu/Zn SOD, FeSOD, POD, GPX under Pb treatment compared with single Cd2+ treatment in the shoots. However, after high Cd exposure, plants displayed lower NRT, Cd content, CAT activity, and exhibited higher Cd contents, Cd translocation factor, MDA content, gene expression level of Cu/ZnSOD and GPX with the presence of Pb2+ relative to single Cd2+ treatment. These findings lead to a conclusion that the presence of low Cd level impacted positively towards tall fescue growth under Pb stress, while high level of Cd impacted negatively. In summary, antioxidant enzymes responded to Cd and Pb interaction at an early stage of exposure, and their gene expression profiles provided more details of the activation of those systems.