Interactive effects of single, binary and trinary trace metals (lead, zinc and copper) on the physiological responses of Kandelia obovata seedlings

  • Xiaoxue Shen
  • Ruili Li
  • Minwei Chai
  • Shanshan Cheng
  • Zhiyuan Niu
  • Guo Yu Qiu
Original Paper


Heavy metals are considered important environmental contaminants, and their mixture toxicity on plants has complex mutual interactions. The interactive effects of heavy metals on growth, photosynthetic parameters, lipid peroxidation and compatible osmolytes were studied in Kandelia obovata grown for 5 months in sediment treated with combinations of lead (Pb), zinc (Zn) and copper (Cu). The results showed no significant reduction of biomass under heavy metal stresses, except for decreased root biomass under higher Pb + Cu treatment, indicating high tolerance of K. obovata to heavy metal stress. Only the photosynthetic parameters, including net photosynthetic rate (Pn), stomatal conductance (Gs) and transpiration rate (Tr), decreased with increasing concentration of treatments (except for Pb + Cu and Pb + Zn + Cu). Trinary treatment (Pb + Zn + Cu) increased biomass and the photosynthetic parameters when compared to the external addition of binary metals. In the roots, biomass and soluble sugar content were lower under binary than trinary treatments, indicating that the combination of Zn and Cu exhibited improved effects of alleviating toxicity than each of them alone in Pb-containing combined treatments. In the leaves, Zn-containing combined treatments significantly decreased malondialdehyde (MDA), soluble sugar and proline content in low concentration, while Pb + Cu treatments significantly increased these parameters (P < 0.05). The correlation analysis showed that leaf MDA and proline content were negatively correlated with Zn concentration (P < 0.05). Zn could alleviate the effects of combined heavy metal stress, and Pb + Cu treatment showed synergistic effects in leaves. The positive correlations between MDA content and the osmotic parameters showed that osmotic stress and lipid membranes oxidation exist simultaneously under multiple heavy metal stresses. Therefore, biomass, Tr, leaf MDA, leaf proline content and soluble sugar content could indicate metal mixture toxicity to mangrove seedlings.


Mangrove plant Multiple heavy metal stresses Photosynthetic characteristics MDA Proline 



This work was financially supported by the Program of Science and Technology of Shenzhen (JCYJ20160330095549229, KQJSCX20160226110414) and the Program of Assessment and Restoration of Mangrove Geiwei of Shenzhen Bay. Xiaoxue Shen was responsible for the operation of this research and writing this article. Shanshan Cheng and Zhiyuan Niu provided help in conducting this research. Ruili Li was the principal investigator of this research. Guo Yu Qiu provided useful suggestions. Minwei Chai made a great contribution to the revision of this manuscript.

Supplementary material

10653_2018_142_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (15 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 14 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xiaoxue Shen
    • 1
  • Ruili Li
    • 1
  • Minwei Chai
    • 1
  • Shanshan Cheng
    • 1
  • Zhiyuan Niu
    • 1
  • Guo Yu Qiu
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Environment and EnergyPeking University Shenzhen Graduate SchoolShenzhenChina

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