Alleviation of phyto-toxicity of copper on agricultural plants

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Abstract

Copper (Cu), a redox-active transition metal, is known to be involved in protein metabolism, photosynthetic and respiratory electron transport, cell wall metabolism, antioxidant activity, nitrogen fixation, ion metabolization, and hormone perception, among others in plants. Though Cu has been listed among the essential elements, it could potentially result in complete inhibition of plant growth and development at excess concentrations. Measures available for alleviating Cu toxicity in plants are discussed in the present paper. Exogenous application of nitric oxide through up-regulating the components of antioxidant defense system [catalase (CAT-EC 1.11.1.6), peroxidase (POD-EC 1.11.1.7), superoxide dismutase (SOD-EC 1.15.1.1), and ascorbate peroxidase (APX-EC 1.11.1.11) activities] and stimulating the enzyme P5CS (D1-pyrroline-5-carboxylate synthetase), which catalyzes proline biosynthesis, has been proved to stand against the adverse impacts of Cu toxicity. Addition of cations (such as Ca2+ and Mg2+) through stimulating site-specific competition for metal ions could also prevent excess accumulation of Cu in cell interior. Silicon application, through nutrient balancing and physically blocking the apoplastic bypass flow has also been recognized to be effective in alleviating Cu toxicity. Addition of organic amendments and use of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi as soil inoculants have also proved successful in amelioration of Cucontaminated soils. Though molecular and physiological mechanisms associated with Cu toxicity have been substantially investigated, information on the regulation of the expression of stress-related genes in key agricultural plant species is still lacking. Additional research efforts focusing at field validation of the toxicity alleviation methods are also equally important.