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Environ Pollut. 2005 Mar;134(1):23-34.

Study of calcium-dependent lead-tolerance on plants differing in their level of Ca-deficiency tolerance.

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  • 1Warsaw University, Faculty of Biology, Institute of Plant Experimental Botany, Department of Plant Morphogenesis, Miecznikowa str. 1, 02-096 Warszawa, Poland.


The main aim of the study was to determine the role of calcium in the amelioration of lead toxic effects in plants with accordingly high/low level of Pb-tolerance and high/low Ca-deficiency tolerance. The study was performed on maize, rye, tomato and mustard. Plants were cultivated in modified Knop's solution. They were subjected to Ca-deficiency, and to lead nitrate administered in the presence of four calcium nitrate concentrations 3.0, 2.4, 1.2, 0.3mM. Lead-tolerance and tolerance to Ca-deficiency were determined, as were concentration of the studied elements in plant tissues, and the Pb deposition pattern at the ultrastructural level (electron microscopy study, X-ray microanalysis). In all studied plants, lead toxicity increased as medium calcium content decreased, however, only in the Ca-deficiency sensitive mustard with low Pb-tolerance was it accompanied by a rise in tissue lead concentration. In contrast, lead root and shoot levels did not increase in the highly Ca-deficiency tolerant tomato, mustard and rye with high Pb-tolerance irrespective of the Ca(2+) regimens applied. Thus, in these plants, lead's unfavourable effects resulted only from the higher toxicity of the same amount of lead in tissues at low calcium in the medium. Of particular relevance is the finding by electron microscopy and X-ray microanalysis, that under low calcium in both highly Ca-deficiency tolerant and Ca-deficiency sensitive plants, less efficient Pb(2+) detoxification was accompanied by the restriction of the formation of large lead deposits in cell walls. Obtained results are novel in demonstrating calcium involvement in the lead deposition in the cell wall, thus in the regulation of the internal lead detoxification.

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