, Volume 54, Issue 4, pp 491–501 | Cite as

Photosynthetic and growth responses of two mustard cultivars differing in phytocystatin activity under cadmium stress

  • T. S. Per
  • S. Khan
  • M. Asgher
  • B. Bano
  • N. A. Khan
Original papers


Cadmium inhibits photosynthetic capacity of plants by disturbing protein conformations, whereas phytocystatins prevent degradation of target proteins and are involved in abiotic stress tolerance. Two mustard (Brassica juncea L.) cultivars, Ro Agro 4001 and Amruta, were grown with Cd (50 µM) in order to study physiological and biochemical basis of differences in Cd tolerance. Amruta accumulated higher Cd and H2O2 concentrations in leaves than that of Ro Agro 4001. Cd significantly decreased photosynthesis and growth of plants in both cultivars by reducing a chlorophyll content, gas exchange parameters, and activity of Rubisco; the effects were more prominent in Amruta than those in Ro Agro 4001. The greater photosynthesis and growth of Ro Agro 4001 under Cd stress might be attributed to its higher phytocystatin activity together with greater ascorbate peroxidase activity, photosynthetic nitrogen-use efficiency, sulphur assimilation (ATP-sulphurylase activity and S content), and contents of cysteine and reduced glutathione compared to Amruta. In contrast, the activity of superoxide dismutase (SOD) was higher in Amruta than that of Ro Agro 4001 under control conditions, whereas the Cd treatment increased significantly the SOD activity in both cultivars with the greater increase in Ro Agro 4001. The fluorescence spectra of phytocystatin showed a lesser change in Ro Agro 4001 under Cd stress than that in Amruta suggesting higher resistance of Ro Agro 4001 to Cd. The higher phytocystatin activity under Cd stress in Ro Agro 4001 compared to Amruta enabled the plants to protect their proteins more efficiently. This resulted in a greater increase of photosynthetic capacity in Ro Agro 4001 than that of Amruta. Thus, the phytocystatin activity may be considered as a physiological parameter for augmenting photosynthesis and growth of mustard under Cd stress.

Additional key words

chlorophyll fluorescence fluorescence spectra leaf area phytocystatin plant dry mass 



analysis of variance


ascorbate peroxidase






intercellular CO2 concentration


dry mass


electron transport rate


fresh mass


maximal quantum yield of PSII photochemistry


intrinsic efficiency of PSII


stomatal conductance


reduced glutathione


least significant difference


nonphotochemical quenching


photochemical quenching


net photosynthesis


plant dry mass




photosynthetic nitrogen-use efficiency


polyvinyl pyrrolidone


reactive oxygen species


superoxide dismutase


proteinase inhibitor


effective quantum yield of PSII photochemistry


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Copyright information

© The Institute of Experimental Botany 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • T. S. Per
    • 1
  • S. Khan
    • 2
  • M. Asgher
    • 1
  • B. Bano
    • 2
  • N. A. Khan
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BotanyAligarh Muslim UniversityAligarhIndia
  2. 2.Department of Biochemistry, Life SciencesAligarh Muslim UniversityAligarhIndia

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