Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 23, Issue 7, pp 7022–7031 | Cite as

Changes in the chemical properties and swelling coefficient of alfalfa root cell walls in the presence of toluene as a toxic agent

  • M. Sharifi
  • A. H. Khoshgoftarmanesh
  • H. Hadadzadeh
Research Article


The influence of toluene pollution on the chemical properties and swelling coefficient of root cell walls in alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) was investigated. Two sets of alfalfa seedlings were selected and one set was treated with 450 mg L−1 toluene in the nutrient solution under hydroponic culture. Thirty days after treatment with toluene, alfalfa plants were harvested and the root cell walls were isolated. Fourier-transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy was carried out for the characterization of the root cell walls composition. The cation exchange capacity (CEC) and the swelling coefficient of the root cell walls (K cw) were estimated at various pH values. The toluene contamination significantly reduced the mass of the cell wall material in the alfalfa roots. According to the FTIR spectra, the toluene pollution can change the alfalfa root cell wall properties by reducing the cell wall functional groups. These functional groups are probably related to the proteins and polysaccharides in the cell wall. Also, toluene pollution strongly reduced CEC and K cw of the root cell walls. The results show that the decrease in the active sites of adsorption on the root cell walls as a response to toluene pollution can affect the water flow rate and the mineral nutrients uptake by roots.


Alfalfa Toluene Cell wall Cation exchange capacity Swelling coefficient Root 



Fourier-Transform Infrared


Cation exchange capacity


Swelling coefficient of root cell walls


United States Environmental Protection Agency


Statistical Analysis System


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. Sharifi
    • 1
  • A. H. Khoshgoftarmanesh
    • 1
  • H. Hadadzadeh
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Soil Science, College of AgricultureIsfahan University of TechnologyIsfahanIran
  2. 2.Department of ChemistryIsfahan University of TechnologyIsfahanIran

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