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Ecotoxicology. 2009 Jan;18(1):110-21. doi: 10.1007/s10646-008-0264-3. Epub 2008 Sep 3.

Bioaccumulation and physiological effects of mercury in Pteris vittata and Nephrolepis exaltata.

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Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, College of Life Science, Nanjing Agricultural University, Nanjing, 210095, People's Republic of China.


Anatomical, histochemical and biochemical approaches were used to study mercury uptake and phytotoxicity as well as anti-oxidative responses in two species of ferns [Chinese brake fern (Pteris vittata) and Boston fern (Nephrolepis exaltata)], grown in a hydroponic system. The roots of both cultivars accumulated large amounts of mercury, but exhibited limited mercury translocation to shoots. Mercury exposure led to more pronounced phytotoxicity accompanied by stronger oxidative stress in the shoots of P. vittata than in N. exaltata. N. exaltata established a more effective anti-oxidative system against mercury-induced oxidative stress than did P. vittata. The activity of anti-oxidative enzymes (superoxide dismutase, catalase and glutathione reductase) increased. The reduced ascorbate (ASA) and oxidized ascorbate (DHA) are regulated. Mercury exposure led to an increase in the concentration of glutathione (GSH) in both fern species. The present study suggests that N. exaltata is more tolerant to mercury exposure than P. vittata, which has been also reported to be more tolerant to arsenic exposure. N. exaltata may thus have potential for phytostabilization of soils or phytofiltration of waste water contaminated with mercury.

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