Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 19, Issue 5, pp 1640–1651 | Cite as

Lead tolerance and physiological adaptation mechanism in roots of accumulating and non-accumulating ecotypes of Sedum alfredii

  • Huagang Huang
  • D. K. Gupta
  • Shengke Tian
  • Xiao-e Yang
  • Tingxuan Li
Research Article


Background, aim and scope

Lead (Pb) accumulation in soils affects plants primarily through their root systems. The aim of this study was to investigate early symptoms of the loss of membrane integrity and lipid peroxidation in root tissues and physiological adaptation mechanism to Pb in accumulating ecotypes (AE) and non-accumulating ecotypes (NAE) of Sedum alfredii under Pb stress in hydroponics.

Methods and results

Histochemical in situ analyses, fluorescence imaging, and normal physiological analysis were used in this study. Pb accumulation in roots of both AE and NAE increased linearly with increasing Pb levels (0–200 μM), and a significant difference between both ecotypes was noted. Both loss of plasma membrane integrity and lipid peroxidation in root tissues became serious with increasing Pb levels, maximum tolerable Pb level was 25 and 100 μM for NAE and AE, respectively. Pb supplied at a toxic level caused a burst of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in root cells in both ecotypes. However, the root cells of AE had inherently higher activities of superoxide dismutase (SOD), guaiacol peroxidase (POD), and lipoxygenase (LOX) in control plants, and the induction response of these antioxidant enzymes occurred at lower Pb level in AE than NAE. AE plants maintained higher ascorbic acid and H2O2 concentrations in root cells than NAE when exposed to different Pb levels, and Pb induced more increase in dehydroascorbate (DHA), catalase (CAT), and ascorbate peroxidase (APX) in AE than NAE roots.

Discussion and conclusion

Results indicate that histochemical in situ analyses of root cell death and lipid peroxidation under Pb short-term stress was sensitive, reliable, and fast. Higher tolerance in roots of accumulating ecotype under Pb stress did depend on effective free oxygen scavenging by making complex function of both constitutively higher activities and sensitive induction of key antioxidant enzymes in root cells of S. alfredii.


Histochemical localization Phytoremediation Lead Roots Oxidative stress Sedum alfredii 



Lead accumulating ecotypes of Sedum alfredii


Ascorbate peroxidase




Total ascorbate






5,5′-Dithiobis 2-nitrobenzoic acid


Dry weight


Fresh weight




5-(and-6)-Carboxy-2′,7′-dichlorofluorescein diacetate


Hydrogen peroxide






Lead non-accumulating ecotypes of Sedum alfredii


Nitroblue tetrazolium


Superoxide anion




Guaiacol peroxidase


Reactive oxygen species


Superoxide dismutase


Thiobarbituric acid



This work was supported by National Natural Science Foundation of China (30871589), the National High Technology Research and Development Program of China (2009AA06Z316), and Shanghai Tongji Gao Tingyao Environmental Science & Technology Development Foundation (7th winner, 2010). Authors are also grateful to two anonymous referees who made valuable suggestions on the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Ministry of Education Key Laboratory of Polluted Environment Remediation and Ecological Health, College of Environmental and Resource SciencesZhejiang UniversityHangzhouChina
  2. 2.College of Resource and Environmental ScienceSichuan Agricultural UniversityChengduChina
  3. 3.Departamento de Bioquimica, Biologia Cellular y Molecular de Plantas, Estacion Experimental del ZaidinConsejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC)GranadaSpain

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