Photosynthesis Research

, Volume 139, Issue 1–3, pp 449–460 | Cite as

Effects of selenate and red Se-nanoparticles on the photosynthetic apparatus of Nicotiana tabacum

  • Ottó Zsiros
  • Valéria Nagy
  • Árpád Párducz
  • Gergely Nagy
  • Renáta Ünnep
  • Hassan El-Ramady
  • József Prokisch
  • Zsuzsa Lisztes-Szabó
  • Miklós Fári
  • József Csajbók
  • Szilvia Zita Tóth
  • Győző Garab
  • Éva Domokos-SzabolcsyEmail author
Original Article


Selenium (Se) is a natural trace element, which shifts its action in a relatively narrow concentration range from nutritional role to toxicity. Although it has been well established that in plants chloroplasts are among the primary targets, the mechanism of toxicity on photosynthesis is not well understood. Here, we compared selenate and red-allotrope elemental selenium nanoparticles (red nanoSe) in in vitro tobacco cultures to investigate their effects on the structure and functions of the photosynthetic machinery. Selenate at 10 mg/L concentration retarded plant growth; it also led to a decreased chlorophyll content, accompanied with an increase in the carotenoid-to-chlorophyll ratio. Structural examinations of the photosynthetic machinery, using electron microscopy, small-angle neutron scattering and circular dichroism spectroscopy, revealed significant perturbation in the macro-organization of the pigment-protein complexes and sizeable shrinkage in the repeat distance of granum thylakoid membranes. As shown by chlorophyll a fluorescence transient measurements, these changes in the ultrastructure were associated with a significantly diminished photosystem II activity and a reduced performance of the photosynthetic electron transport, and an enhanced capability of non-photochemical quenching. These changes in the structure and function of the photosynthetic apparatus explain, at least in part, the retarded growth of plantlets in the presence of 10 mg/L selenate. In contrast, red nanoSe, even at 100 mg/L and selenate at 1 mg/L, exerted no negative effect on the growth of plantlets and affected only marginally the thylakoid membrane ultrastructure and the photosynthetic functions.


Chlorophyll fluorescence transients Chloroplast thylakoid membranes Circular dichroism Electron microscopy Nicotiana tabacum Selenate and Se-nanoparticles Small-angle neutron scattering 



This research was supported by the “ÚNKP-17-4 New National Excellence Program of the Ministry of Human Capacities” and by grants from the National Research Development and Innovation Office of Hungary (OTKA KH 124985 to GG and GINOP-2.2.1-15-2017-00051 to MF and OTKA NN 114524 to SZT). Zs L-SZ was supported by the European Union and the State of Hungary, co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund in the project of GINOP-2.3.2.-15-2016-00009 ‘ICER’.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that there is no kind of conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ottó Zsiros
    • 1
  • Valéria Nagy
    • 1
  • Árpád Párducz
    • 2
  • Gergely Nagy
    • 1
    • 3
    • 4
  • Renáta Ünnep
    • 3
    • 4
  • Hassan El-Ramady
    • 5
    • 8
  • József Prokisch
    • 6
  • Zsuzsa Lisztes-Szabó
    • 7
  • Miklós Fári
    • 8
  • József Csajbók
    • 9
  • Szilvia Zita Tóth
    • 1
  • Győző Garab
    • 1
    • 10
  • Éva Domokos-Szabolcsy
    • 8
    Email author
  1. 1.Institute of Plant Biology, Biological Research CenterHungarian Academy of SciencesSzegedHungary
  2. 2.Institute of Biophysics, Biological Research CenterHungarian Academy of SciencesSzegedHungary
  3. 3.Laboratory for Neutron ScatteringPaul Scherrer InstituteVilligen PSISwitzerland
  4. 4.Institute for Solid State Physics and Optics, Wigner Research Centre for PhysicsHungarian Academy of SciencesBudapestHungary
  5. 5.Department of Soil and Water Sciences, Faculty of AgricultureKafrelsheikh UniKafr El-SheikhEgypt
  6. 6.Bio- and Environmental Enegetics Inst., Nano Food LabDebrecen UniversityDebrecenHungary
  7. 7.Isotope Climatology and Environmental Research Centre, Institute for Nuclear ResearchHungarian Academy of SciencesDebrecenHungary
  8. 8.Department of Agricultural Botany, Plant Physiology and BiotechnologyUniversity of DebrecenDebrecenHungary
  9. 9.Department of Crop Production and Applied EcologyUniversity of DebrecenDebrecenHungary
  10. 10.Department of Physics, Faculty of ScienceOstrava UniversityOstrava – Slezská OstravaCzech Republic

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