Does glutathione metabolism have a role in the defence of poplar against zinc excess?

Daniela Di Baccio, Stanislav Kopriva, Luca Sebastiani, Heinz Rennenberg
New Phytologist 2005, 167 (1): 73-80
Transition metals such as zinc (Zn) are essential micronutrients for many physiological processes, but they become toxic at elevated levels. Zinc is one of the most abundant trace heavy metals present in agro-ecosystems. Populus spp. have been suggested as good candidates for using to study the removal and/or immobilization of environmental organic and inorganic pollutants. In order to understand the physiological and biochemical bases of this assumption for Zn, plants of Populus deltoides x P. nigra (P. x euramericana) were grown in hydroponics with different concentrations of Zn [1 microm (control), and 1, 5 and 10 mm] in the nutrient solution.Shoot biomass decreased at 5 and 10 mm Zn, while the Zn content of young leaves increased progressively with increasing Zn concentration (1-10 mm). Total glutathione (GSH+GSSG) content was reduced with increasing Zn concentration, while the contribution of oxidized to total glutathione increased. Despite these observations, semiquantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) revealed that the gene expression of GSH reductase (GR, chloroplastic and cytosolic isoform) and gamma-glutamylcysteine synthetase (gamma-ECS) increased in young leaves of poplars treated with excess Zn. We conclude that GSH synthesis, consumption and redox status play a central role in the response of poplars to high concentrations of Zn.

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