Early physiological and biochemical responses of rice seedlings to low concentration of microcystin-LR

Catarina C Azevedo, Joana Azevedo, Hugo Osório, Vitor Vasconcelos, Alexandre Campos
Ecotoxicology 2014, 23 (2): 107-21
Microcystin-leucine and arginine (microcystin-LR) is a cyanotoxin produced by cyanobacteria like Microcystis aeruginosa, and it's considered a threat to water quality, agriculture, and human health. Rice (Oryza sativa) is a plant of great importance in human food consumption and economy, with extensive use around the world. It is therefore important to assess the possible effects of using water contaminated with microcystin-LR to irrigate rice crops, in order to ensure a safe, high quality product to consumers. In this study, 12 and 20-day-old plants were exposed during 2 or 7 days to a M. aeruginosa extract containing environmentally relevant microcystin-LR concentrations, 0.26-78 μg/L. Fresh and dry weight of roots and leaves, chlorophyll fluorescence, glutathione S-transferase and glutathione peroxidase activities, and protein identification by mass spectrometry through two-dimensional gel electrophoresis from root and leaf tissues, were evaluated in order to gauge the plant's physiological condition and biochemical response after toxin exposure. Results obtained from plant biomass, chlorophyll fluorescence, and enzyme activity assays showed no significant differences between control and treatment groups. However, proteomics data indicates that plants respond to M. aeruginosa extract containing environmentally relevant microcystin-LR concentrations by changing their metabolism, responding differently to different toxin concentrations. Biological processes most affected were related to protein folding and stress response, protein biosynthesis, cell signalling and gene expression regulation, and energy and carbohydrate metabolism which may denote a toxic effect induced by M. aeruginosa extract and microcystin-LR. The implications of the metabolic alterations in plant physiology and growth require further elucidation.

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