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Lead Uptake, Toxicity, and Detoxification in Plants

Abstract : Lead has gained considerable attention as a persistent toxic pollutant of concern, partly because it has been prominent in the debate concerning the growing anthropogenic pressure on the environment. The purpose of this review is to describe how plants take lead up and to link such uptake to the ecotoxicity of lead in plants. Moreover, we address the mechanisms by which plants or plant systems detoxify lead. Lead has many interesting physico-chemical properties that make it a very useful heavy metal. Indeed, lead has been used by people since the dawn of civilization. Industrialization, urbanization, mining, and many other anthropogenic activities have resulted in the redistribution of lead from the earth's crust to the soil and to the environment. Lead forms various complexes with soil components, and only a small fraction of the lead present as these complexes in the soil solution are phytoavailable. Despite its lack of essential function in plants, lead is absorbed by them mainly through the roots from soil solution and thereby may enter the food chain. The absorption of lead by roots occurs via the apoplastic pathway or via Ca2+-permeable channels. The behavior of lead in soil, and uptake by plants, is controlled by its speciation and by the soil pH, soil particle size, cation-exchange capacity, root surface area, root exudation, and degree of mycorrhizal transpiration. After uptake, lead primarily accumulates in root cells, because of the blockage by Casparian strips within the endodermis. Lead is also trapped by the negative charges that exist on roots' cell walls. Excessive lead accumulation in plant tissue impairs various morphological, physiological, and biochemical functions in plants, either directly or indirectly, and induces a range of deleterious effects. It causes phytotoxicity by changing cell membrane permeability, by reacting with active groups of different enzymes involved in plant metabolism and by reacting with the phosphate groups of ADP or ATP, and by replacing essential ions. Lead toxicity causes inhibition of ATP production, Lead Uptake, Toxicity, and Detoxification in Plants 131 lipid peroxidation, and DNA damage by over production of ROS. In addition, lead strongly inhibits seed germination, root elongation, seedling development, plant growth, transpiration, chlorophyll production, and water and protein content. The negative effects that lead has on plant vegetative growth mainly result from the following factors: distortion of chloroplast ultrastructure, obstructed electron transport, inhibition of Calvin cycle enzymes, impaired uptake of essential elements, such as Mg and Fe, and induced deficiency of CO2 resulting from stomatal closure. Under lead stress, plants possess several defense strategies to cope with lead toxicity. Such strategies include reduced uptake into the cell; sequestration of lead into vacuoles by the formation of complexes; binding of lead by phytochelatins, glutathione, and amino acids; and synthesis of osmolytes. In addition, activation of various antioxidants to combat increased production of lead-induced ROS constitutes a secondary defense system.
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Bertrand Pourrut, Muhammad Shahid, Camille Dumat, Peter Winterton, Eric Pinelli. Lead Uptake, Toxicity, and Detoxification in Plants. Reviews of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, Springer Verlag, 2011, vol. 213, pp. 113-136. ⟨10.1007/978-1-4419-9860-6_4⟩. ⟨hal-00717188⟩

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