, Volume 55, Issue 1, pp 50–57 | Cite as

Low doses of Pb affected Lactuca sativa photosynthetic performance



The effects of soil and water contamination by lead (Pb) and the consequences on plant growth and yield are of great concern worldwide. Limits of the Pb concentration in water have been established by governmental institutions but these differ from each other. In this study, Lactuca sativa (var. Reine de Mai) plants were exposed to low Pb(NO3)2 doses (0.05–20 mg L−1), including the recommended limit values for irrigation water by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). After 28 d of exposure, lettuce plants did not present visible morphological alterations or growth impairment, but CO2 assimilation rate (P N), photochemical quenching, and effective quantum efficiency of PSII were negatively affected, while intercellular CO2 concentration, stomatal conductance, or transpiration rate were not influenced. Our results suggested that limitations on photosynthesis occurred from different reasons than due to the decrease of internal CO2 availability, alterations of photophosphorylation, and/or electron transport rate. Thus, this lettuce cultivar showed photosynthetic susceptibility to low doses of Pb, even at lower concentrations than those maximal allowed for irrigation water by FAO. Furthermore, P N seemed to be the most sensitive biomarker for evaluation of Pb susceptibility.

Additional key words

abiotic stress chlorophyll fluorescence gas exchange phytotoxicity toxic metal 





intercellular CO2 concentration


dry mass


electron transport rate


steady-state fluorescence


minimal fluorescence yield of the dark-adapted state


Food and Agriculture Organization


fresh mass


maximal fluorescence yield of the dark-adapted state


maximal fluorescence yield of the light-adapted state


maximum photochemical efficiency of PSII


stomatal conductance


leaf succulence


nonphotochemical quenching


net photosynthetic rate


photochemical quenching coefficient


total soluble sugar


water content


actual photochemical efficiency of PSII


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Copyright information

© The Institute of Experimental Botany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biology, CESAM and QOPNAUniversity of AveiroAveiroPortugal
  2. 2.Department of Biology and CESAM, Laboratory of Fungal & Plant BiologyUniversity of AveiroAveiroPortugal
  3. 3.Department of BiologyFaculty of Sciences & GreenUP/Citab-UP University of PortoPortoPortugal

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