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Chemosphere. 1997 Jun;34(11):2467-93.

Response of higher plants to lead contaminated environment.

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Department of Biosciences, M.D. University, Rohtak, India.


Lead concentration is increasing rapidly in the environment due to increased use of its sources by human society. Alarming concentrations of the metal have been reported in dust of densely populated urban areas and, water and land of various areas near the industrial waste disposals. Plants absorb lead and accumulation of the metal have been reported in roots, stems, leaves, root nodules and seeds etc. which increases with the increase in the exogenous lead level. Lead affects plant growth and productivity and the magnitude of the effects depend upon the plant species. Photosynthesis has been found to be one of the most sensitive plant processes and the effect of the metal is multifacial. Nitrate reduction is inhibited drastically in roots by the metal but in the leaves a differential effect is observed in various cultivars. Lead also inhibits nodulation, N-fixation and ammonium assimilation in the root nodules. It appears that the toxic effect of the metal is primarily at physiological level and provision of certain inorganic salts can antagonize the toxic effects to some extent. Further responses of plants to the metal depend on various endogenous, environmental and nutritional factors. Some plants are able to tolerate excess of Pb+2 by involving processes like exclusion, compartmentalization or synthesizing metal detoxifying peptides-the phytochelatins.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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