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Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi enhance antioxidant defense in the leaves and the retention of heavy metals in the roots of maize


In this study, we investigated the effects of the arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) Funneliformis mosseae and Diversispora spurcum on the growth, antioxidant physiology, and uptake of phosphorus (P), sulfur (S), lead (Pb), zinc (Zn), cadmium (Cd), and arsenic (As) by maize (Zea mays L.) grown in heavy metal-polluted soils though a potted plant experiment. F. mosseae significantly increased the plant chlorophyll a content, height, and biomass; decreased the H2O2 and malondialdehyde (MDA) contents; and enhanced the superoxide dismutase (SOD) and catalase (CAT) activities and the total antioxidant capacity (T-AOC) in maize leaves; this effect was not observed with D. spurcum. Both F. mosseae and D. spurcum promoted the retention of heavy metals in roots and increased the uptake of Pb, Zn, Cd, and As, and both fungi restricted heavy metal transfer, resulting in decreased Pb, Zn, and Cd contents in shoots. Therefore, the fungi reduced the translocation factors for heavy metal content (TF) and uptake (TF′) in maize. Additionally, F. mosseae promoted P and S uptake by shoots, and D. spurcum increased P and S uptake by roots. Moreover, highly significant negative correlations were found between antioxidant capacity and the H2O2, MDA, and heavy metal contents, and there was a positive correlation with the biomass of maize leaves. These results suggested that AMF alleviated plant toxicity and that this effect was closely related to antioxidant activation in the maize leaves and increased retention of heavy metals in the roots.

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The National Natural Science Foundation of China (Nos. 41461093, 41661056 and 41561057), the Natural Science Foundation of Yunnan Province (No. 2016FB032), and the Science and Technology Innovation Team of Yunnan Province (No. 2017HC015) provided financial support for this work.

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Correspondence to Yongmei He or Yunsheng Xia.

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Responsible editor: Yi-ping Chen

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Zhan, F., Li, B., Jiang, M. et al. Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi enhance antioxidant defense in the leaves and the retention of heavy metals in the roots of maize. Environ Sci Pollut Res 25, 24338–24347 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-018-2487-z

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  • Symbiont
  • Plant growth
  • Antioxidant physiology
  • Nutrient content
  • Heavy metal content