Department of Environment Studies, Panjab University, Chandigarh-160 014, India.
The present study was conducted to assess quantitative information about lead (Pb) contamination in soil on the growth and physiology of wheat. Solutions with three different concentrations of Pb as [Pb(NO3)2 at 500, 1000 and 2500 microM] were incorporated into the soil to achieve Pb-stressed conditions in comparison to unstressed, water treated, control variant. Wheat growth measured in terms of root length, shoot length and dry weight exhibited a significant decline with increasing Pb concentrations in the soil. Root and shoot length and seedling weight declined in the range of -23-51, -17-44, and -21-44% in response to 500 to 2500 microM Pb. In addition, there was a significant reduction in the levels of photosynthetic pigments-chlorophyll a (16-66%) and b (10-24%) and total chlorophyll content (by 14-39%) in plants growing in Pb-contaminated soil. It indicated a negative effect on photosynthetic activity in wheat and was confirmed by reduced photochemical efficiency of PSII (Fv/Fm) in the range of - 3-37% in response to 500 to 2500 microM Pb. The reduction in wheat growth in Pb-contaminated soil was accompanied by induction of oxidative stress as indicated by enhanced lipid peroxidation ir. terms of malondialdehyde (MDA) content (by 18-40%) and hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) content (by 34-123%) and alterations in the activity of enzymes, superoxide dismutases (SOD) and guaiacol peroxidases (GPX) in wheat roots. The study concludes that Pb in soil inhibits growth and phototsynthetic activity in wheat through induction of oxidative stress.
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