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Rivista di Biologia Molecolare e Biotecnologie
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BIOREMEDIATION - Part II
Minerva Biotecnologica 2001 June;13(2):93-5
Toxic metals accumulation and total soluble phenolics in sunflower and tobacco plants
Ruso J. 1, Zapata J. 2, Hernandez M. 3, Ojeda M. A. 4, Benlloch M. 4, Prats-Perez E. 1, ena M. 1, Lopez-Valbuena R. 1, Jorrin J. 1
1 Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, ETSIAM, University of Cordoba, Spain;
2 Universidad de Concepción, Chile;
3 Centro de Bioplantas,, Instituto Superior de Agrícola, Ciego de Avila, Cuba;
4 Department of Agronomy, ETSIAM, University of Córdoba, Spain
Background. Toxic metal contamination is nowadays one of the most serious problems with great incidence on human health and the environment. As a consequence of mining and other industrial activities, municipal wastes and sewage, toxic metals like Cu, Zn, Pb, Cd, Ni, Hg, and As are being accumulated at toxic levels in soil and water. Phytoremediation by using plants as metal accumulators is one of the most promising strategies to remove toxic metals from soils. Evaluation of different crops and wild species as metal accumulators is part of a multidisciplinary approach to multicomponent metal contamination caused by the Aznalcollar (Southern Spain) toxic spill in 1998.
Methods. Two lines of cultivated sunflower and tobacco have been evaluated for growth, toxicity symptoms and metals accumulation in pot and hydroponic systems. The content in total soluble phenolics compound, as general plant defence response, and the effect of toxic metals has been studied in order to evaluate correlationships between both parameters.
Results. Tobacco has shown less tolerance to heavy metals than sunflower. Metals accumulated in roots, and to a much lesser extent in the aerial part, depend on the species, line and experimental system used. By using sunflower and tobacco as experimental models a good correlation has been observed between the induced synthesis of phenolics, mainly in root tissue, and tolerance to and accumulation of heavy metals.
Conclusions. Although sunflower is not a hyperaccumulator plant, due to its fast growth, high biomass and large roots, this crop can be proposed for inclusion in phytoremediation protocols using lines selected for their constitutive and induced phenolics content.