, Volume 251, Issue 6, pp 1407–1416 | Cite as

Morphological, anatomical, and ultrastructural changes (visualized through scanning electron microscopy) inducedin Triticum aestivum by Pb2+ treatment

  • Gurpreet Kaur
  • Harminder Pal Singh
  • Daizy Rani Batish
  • Ravinder Kumar Kohli
Original Article


Lead (Pb) causes severe damage to crops, ecosystems, and humans, and alters the physiology and biochemistry of various plant species. It is hypothesized that Pb-induced metabolic alterations could manifest as structural variations in the roots of plants. In light of this, the morphological, anatomical, and ultrastructural variations (through scanning electron microscopy, SEM) were studied in 4-day-old seedlings of Triticum aestivum grown under Pb stress (0, 8, 16, 40, and 80 mg Pb2+ l−1; mild to highly toxic). The toxic effect was more pronounced in radicle growth than on the plumule growth. The SEM of the root of T. aestivum depicted morphological alterations and surface ultrastructural changes. Compared to intact and uniform surface cells in the control roots, cells were irregular and desiccated in Pb2+-treated roots. In Pb2+-treated roots, the number of root hairs increased manifold, showing dense growth, and these were apparently longer. Apart from the deformity in surface morphology and anatomy of the roots in response to Pb2+ toxicity, considerable anatomical alterations were also observed. Pb2+-treated root exhibited signs of injury in the form of cell distortion, particularly in the cortical cells. The endodermis and pericycle region showed loss of uniformity post Pb2+ exposure (at 80 mg l−1 Pb2+). The cells appeared to be squeezed with greater depositions observed all over the tissue. The study concludes that Pb2+ treatment caused structural anomalies and induced anatomical and surface ultrastructural changes in T. aestivum.


Pb2+ toxicity Morphological changes Anatomical changes Scanning electron microscopy 



Gurpreet Kaur is thankful to University Grants Commission, New Delhi, India, for financial support in the form of research fellowship. We are grateful to the in-charge, Central Instrumentation Laboratory, Panjab University, Chandigarh, and in-charge, Electron Microscopy Facility at All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, for necessary help in getting the samples analyzed by SEM and providing assistance in getting the samples analyzed by ultramicrotomy, respectively.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


  1. Askari S, Uddin F, Azmat R (2007) Biosorption of Hg: I. Significant improvement with marine green algae in the anatomy of hypocotyl of Trigonella foenum-graecum under Hg stress. Pak J Bot 39:1089–1096Google Scholar
  2. Cannata MG, Carvalho R, Bertoli AC, Augusto AS, Bastos ARR, Carvalho JG, Freitas MP (2013) Effects of cadmium and lead on plant growth and content of heavy metals in arugula cultivated in nutritive solution. Commun Soil Sci Plant Anal 44:952–961CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Foreman J, Demidchik V, Bothwell JHF, Mylona P, Miedema H, Torres MA, Instead P, Costa S, Brownlee C, Jones JDG (2003) Reactive oxygen species produced by NADPH oxidase regulate plant cell growth. Nature 422:442–446PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Gomes MP, Marques TCLLM, Nogueira MOG, Castro EM, Soares AM (2011) Ecophysiological and anatomical changes due to uptake and accumulation of heavy metal in Brachiaria decumbens. Plant Physiol Biochem 68:566–573Google Scholar
  5. Gwózdz EA, Przymusiński R, Rucińska R, Deckert J (1997) Plant cell responses to heavy metals: molecular and physiological aspects. Acta Physiol Plant 19:459–465CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. He ZL, Yang XE, Stoffella PJ (2005) Trace elements in agroecosystems and impacts on the environment. J Trace Elem Med Biol 19:125–140PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Heumann HG (1987) Effects of heavy metals on growth and ultrastructure of Chara vulgaris. Protoplasma 136:37–48CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Järup L (2003) Hazards of heavy metal contamination. Br Med Bull 68:167–82PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Kaur G, Singh HP, Batish DR, Kohli RK (2012) A time course assessment of changes in reactive oxygen species generation and antioxidant defense in hydroponically grown wheat in response to lead ions (Pb2+). Protoplasma 249:1091–1100PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Kaur G, Singh HP, Batish DR, Kohli RK (2013) Lead (Pb)-induced biochemical and ultrastructural changes in wheat (Triticum aestivum) roots. Protoplasma 250:53–62PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Khatib RA, Zhao J, Blom DA, Ghoshroy K, Creamer R, Ghoshroy S (2008) Microscopic analysis of lead accumulation in tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum var. Turkish) roots. Microsc Microanal 14:1528–1529CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Kopittke PM, Asher CJ, Kopittke RA, Menzies NW (2007) Toxic effects of Pb2+ on growth of cowpea (Vigna unguiculata). Environ Pollut 150:280–287PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Kuno K (1984) Cyto-histological features of malformations in mulberry roots induced by heavy metals. J Seric Sci Jpn 53:191–197Google Scholar
  14. Liu DH, Kottke I, Adam D (2007) Localization of cadmium in the root cells of Allium cepa by energy dispersive X-ray analysis. Plant Biol 51:363–366CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Małecka A, Piechalak A, Tomaszewska B (2009) Reactive oxygen species production and antioxidative defense system in pea root tissues treated with lead ions: the whole roots level. Acta Physiol Plant 31:1053–1063CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Marschner H, Oberle H, Cakmak I, Römheld V (1990) Growth enhancement by silicon in cucumber (Cucumis sativus) plant depends on imbalance in phosphorus and zinc supply. Plant Soil 124:211–219CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Nishizono H, Ichikawa H, Suziki S, Ishi F (1987) The role of root cell wall in the heavy metal tolerance of Athyrium yokoscense. Plant Soil 101:15–20CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Päivöke A (1983) Anatomical responses of the roots of pea seedlings to lead and arsenate ions. Ann Bot Fenn 20:307–315Google Scholar
  19. Sengar RS, Gautam M, Sengar RS, Garg SK, Sengar K, Chaudhary R (2008) Lead stress effects on physiobiochemical activities of higher plants. Rev Environ Contam Toxicol 96:73–93Google Scholar
  20. Sharma P, Dubey RS (2005) Lead toxicity in plants. Braz J Plant Physiol 17:35–52CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Singh HP, Kaur G, Batish DR, Kohli RK (2011) Lead (Pb)-inhibited radicle emergence in Brassica campestris involves alterations in starch-metabolizing enzymes. Biol Trace Elem Res 144:1295–1301PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Sridhar BBM, Han FX, Diehl SV, Monts LD, Su Y (2007) Effects of Zn and Cd accumulation on structural and physiological characteristics of barley plants. Braz J Plant Physiol 19:15–22CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Sun X, Guo L (2013) Relationship between cadmium-induced root subapical hair development and ethylene biosynthesis in oilseed rape seedlings. Acta Biol Cracov Bot 55:68–75Google Scholar
  24. van Assche F, Clijsters H (1990) Effects of metals on enzyme activity in plants. Plant Cell Environ 13:195–206Google Scholar
  25. Wierzbicka M (1998) Lead in the apoplast of Allium cepa L. root tips–ultrastructural studies. Plant Sci 133:105–119Google Scholar
  26. Wong YS, Lam HM, Dhillon E, Tam NFY, Leung WN (1988) Physiological effects and uptake of Cd in Pisum sativum. Environ Int 14:535–543CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Zarinkamar F, Ghelich S, Soleimanpour S (2013) Toxic effects of Pb on anatomy and hypericin content in Hypericum perforatum L. Biorem J 17:40–51CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Wien 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gurpreet Kaur
    • 1
  • Harminder Pal Singh
    • 1
  • Daizy Rani Batish
    • 2
  • Ravinder Kumar Kohli
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Environment StudiesPanjab UniversityChandigarhIndia
  2. 2.Department of BotanyPanjab UniversityChandigarhIndia

Personalised recommendations