, Volume 27, Issue 5, pp 517–526 | Cite as

Phytotoxic effects of Cu, Cd and Zn on the seagrass Thalassia hemprichii and metal accumulation in plants growing in Xincun Bay, Hainan, China

  • Jin Zheng
  • Xiao-Qian Gu
  • Tai-Jie Zhang
  • Hui-Hui Liu
  • Qiao-Jing Ou
  • Chang-Lian PengEmail author


Seagrasses play an important role in coastal marine ecosystems, but they have been increasingly threatened by human activities. In recent years, seagrass communities have rapidly degenerated in the coastal marine ecosystems of China. To identify the reasons for the decline in seagrasses, the phytotoxic effects of trace metals (Cu, Cd and Zn) on the seagrass Thalassia hemprichii were investigated, and the environmental contents of the metals were analyzed where the seagrass grows. The results showed that leaf necrosis in T. hemprichii exposed to 0.01–0.1 mg L−1 of Cu2+ for 5 days was more serious than that in plants exposed to the same concentrations of Cd2+ and Zn2+. The chlorophyll content in T. hemprichii declined in a concentration-dependent manner after 5 days of exposure to Cu2+, Cd2+ and Zn2+. The evident reduction in ΔF/Fm’ in T. hemprichii leaves was observed at day 1 of exposure to 0.01–1.0 mg L−1 of Cu2+ and at day 3 of exposure to 0.1–1.0 mg L−1 of Cd2+. The antioxidant enzyme activities (SOD, POD and CAT) in T. hemprichii leaves exposed to the three metal ions also showed significant changes. In seawater from Xincun Bay (Hainan, China), where T. hemprichii grows, Cu had reached a concentration (i.e., 0.01 mg L−1) that could significantly reduce chlorophyll content and ΔF/Fm’ in T. hemprichii leaves. Our results indicate that Cu influences the deterioration of seagrasses in Xincun Bay.


Chlorophyll fluorescence Metals Seagrass Thalassia hemprichii 



This work was funded by the National Key R&D Program of China (2017YFC1200105) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31570398). The study was also supported by the Guangdong Province Natural Science Foundation (2017A030313167, 2015A030311023).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jin Zheng
    • 1
  • Xiao-Qian Gu
    • 1
  • Tai-Jie Zhang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Hui-Hui Liu
    • 1
  • Qiao-Jing Ou
    • 1
  • Chang-Lian Peng
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Guangzhou Key Laboratory of Subtropical Biodiversity and Biomonitoring, Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory of Biotechnology for Plant Development, School of Life SciencesSouth China Normal UniversityGuangzhouChina
  2. 2.Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory of High Technology for Plant Protection, Institute of Plant ProtectionGuangdong Academy of Agricultural SciencesGuangzhouChina

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