Environmental Chemistry Letters

, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp 229–254 | Cite as

Chromium toxicity and tolerance in plants

  • Harminder Pal Singh
  • Priyanka Mahajan
  • Shalinder Kaur
  • Daizy R. Batish
  • Ravinder K. Kohli


Chromium (Cr) is the second most common metal contaminant in ground water, soil, and sediments due to its wide industrial application, hence posing a serious environmental concern. Among various valence states, Cr(III) and Cr(VI) are the most stable forms. Cr(VI) is the most persistent in the soil and is highly toxic for biota. Since Cr is a non-essential element for plants, there is no uptake mechanism; Cr is taken up along essential elements such as sulfate through sulfate transporters. Cr accumulation in plants causes high toxicity in terms of reduction in growth and biomass accumulation, and Cr induces structural alterations. Cr interferes with photosynthetic and respiration processes, and water and minerals uptake mechanism. Various enzymatic activities related to starch and nitrogen metabolism are decreased by Cr toxicity either by direct interference with the enzymes or through the production of reactive oxygen species. Cr causes oxidative damage by destruction of membrane lipids and DNA damage. Cr may even cause the death of plant species. Few plant species are able to accumulate high amount of Cr without being damaged. Such Cr-tolerant, hyperaccumulator plants are exploited for their bioremediation property. The present review discusses Cr availability in the environment, Cr transfer to biota, toxicity issues, effect on germination and plant growth, morphological and ultrastructural aberrations, biochemical and physiological alterations, effect on metabolic processes, Cr-induced alterations at the molecular level, Cr hyperaccumulation and Cr detoxification mechanism, and the role of arbuscular mycorrhizae in Cr toxicity, in plants.


Chromium (Cr) Heavy metal Physiological alterations Ultrastructural effects Molecular aspects Cr tolerance Cr hyperaccumulators 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Environment StudiesPanjab UniversityChandigarhIndia
  2. 2.Department of BotanyPanjab UniversityChandigarhIndia

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