Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 22, Issue 6, pp 4597–4608 | Cite as

Mercury heavy-metal-induced physiochemical changes and genotoxic alterations in water hyacinths [Eichhornia crassipes (Mart.)]

  • Srinivasan Malar
  • Shivendra Vikram Sahi
  • Paulo J. C. Favas
  • Perumal Venkatachalam
Research Article


Mercury heavy metal pollution has become an important environmental problem worldwide. Accumulation of mercury ions by plants may disrupt many cellular functions and block normal growth and development. To assess mercury heavy metal toxicity, we performed an experiment focusing on the responses of Eichhornia crassipes to mercury-induced oxidative stress. E. crassipes seedlings were exposed to varying concentrations of mercury to investigate the level of mercury ions accumulation, changes in growth patterns, antioxidant defense mechanisms, and DNA damage under hydroponics system. Results showed that plant growth rate was significantly inhibited (52 %) at 50 mg/L treatment. Accumulation of mercury ion level were 1.99 mg/g dry weight, 1.74 mg/g dry weight, and 1.39 mg/g dry weight in root, leaf, and petiole tissues, respectively. There was a decreasing trend for chlorophyll a, b, and carotenoids with increasing the concentration of mercury ions. Both the ascorbate peroxidase and malondialdehyde contents showed increased trend in leaves and roots up to 30 mg/L mercury treatment and slightly decreased at the higher concentrations. There was a positive correlation between heavy metal dose and superoxide dismutase, catalase, and peroxidase antioxidative enzyme activities which could be used as biomarkers to monitor pollution in E. crassipes. Due to heavy metal stress, some of the normal DNA bands were disappeared and additional bands were amplified compared to the control in the random amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) profile. Random amplified polymorphic DNA results indicated that genomic template stability was significantly affected by mercury heavy metal treatment. We concluded that DNA changes determined by random amplified polymorphic DNA assay evolved a useful molecular marker for detection of genotoxic effects of mercury heavy metal contamination in plant species.


Genotoxicity Hyperaccumulation Mercury toxicity Oxidative stress Phytoremediation 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Srinivasan Malar
    • 1
  • Shivendra Vikram Sahi
    • 2
  • Paulo J. C. Favas
    • 3
  • Perumal Venkatachalam
    • 1
  1. 1.Plant Genetic Engineering and Molecular Biotechnology Lab, Department of BiotechnologyPeriyar UniversitySalemIndia
  2. 2.Department of BiologyWestern Kentucky UniversityBowling GreenUSA
  3. 3.School of Life Sciences and the EnvironmentUniversity of Trás-os-Montes Alto DouroVila RealPortugal

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