Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 26, Issue 4, pp 3593–3602 | Cite as

Application of carotenoid to alleviate the oxidative stress caused by phenanthrene in wheat

  • Yu Shen
  • Jinfeng Li
  • Shengnan Shi
  • Ruochen Gu
  • Xinhua ZhanEmail author
  • Baoshan Xing
Research Article


It is reported that the accumulated polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) can cause wheat leaf chlorosis, and we identified that carotenoid (Car) and superoxide dismutase (SOD) are the two most active factors in antioxidant system in the previous study. Herein, we applied Car as an exogenous chemical added to alleviate the toxicity triggered by phenanthrene (a model PAH) in wheat seedlings. In the exogenous Car addition groups, we found that the leaf number would grow three, and the relative biomass and the relative root length of 20 mg L−1 Car added would take positive changes that increased by 171.35% and 108.08% of the phenanthrene-treated group at day 9, respectively. Under the subcellular structure, vacuole would be clear and clean, chloroplast and mitochondria shapes turned normal in the exogenous Car addition groups, and their osmophilic particle densities were much lower than the phenanthrene-treated group. Chlorophyll a, chlorophyll b, and total chlorophyll concentrations also recovered after Car was added in the phenanthrene treatments for 9 days. The activity of SOD, another active factor, also decreased when Car was added, and the values dropped to 16.54 and 24.61 U g−1 for the 10 and 20 mg L−1 Car addition groups, respectively. Like the SOD activity, malondialdehyde (MDA) concentrations of the two Car addition groups decreased to 26.50% and 26.87% of the phenanthrene treatment. The relative concentrations of 5 kinds of amino acids (valine, alanine, proline, aspartic acid, and lysine) recovered significantly, and the principal component analysis suggested that amino acid concentrations were in recovery progress when Car was added in phenanthrene treatments. Therefore, it is concluded that Car is an effective PAH toxicity relief. Our result offers a new way to improve the plant resistance to PAH pollution in the environment.

Graphical abstract


Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, Carotenoid, Detoxification, Wheat, Phenanthrene 


Funding information

This work was supported jointly by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31770546, 31370521), the Key Talent-Inviting Project of Nanjing Agricultural University (X2017024), and the Graduate Student Training Innovation Project of Jiangsu Province (KYZZ16_0378). Yu Shen thanks the China Scholarship Council (CSC) for the financial support to study at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yu Shen
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jinfeng Li
    • 1
  • Shengnan Shi
    • 1
  • Ruochen Gu
    • 1
  • Xinhua Zhan
    • 1
    Email author
  • Baoshan Xing
    • 2
  1. 1.College of Resources and Environmental SciencesNanjing Agricultural UniversityJiangsu ProvinceChina
  2. 2.Stockbridge School of AgricultureUniversity of MassachusettsAmherstUSA

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