Plant and Soil

, Volume 310, Issue 1–2, pp 151–165 | Cite as

Copper phytotoxicity affects root elongation and iron nutrition in durum wheat (Triticum turgidum durum L.)

  • Aurélia M. Michaud
  • Carole Chappellaz
  • Philippe HinsingerEmail author
Regular Article


This work investigated how copper (Cu) phytotoxicity affected iron (Fe) nutrition and root elongation in hydroponically grown durum wheat (Triticum turgidum durum L., cv Acalou) in order to establish the critical level of Cu concentration in roots above which significant Cu phytotoxicity occurs. This was assessed at two levels of Fe supply (2 and 100 μM). Severe symptoms of Cu phytotoxicity were observed at Cu2+ concentration above 1 μM, i.e. interveinal chlorosis symptoms and global root growth alteration. Total root Cu concentration of about 100, 150 and 250–300 mg kg−1 corresponded to 10%, 25% and 50% reduction in root elongation, respectively. Copper and Fe concentrations as well as amounts of Cu and Fe accumulated in shoots varied inversely which suggested an antagonism between Cu and Fe leading to Fe deficiency. In addition, the root-induced release of complexing compounds increased significantly with increasing Cu concentration in nutrient solution and was positively correlated with Cu uptake without significant difference between the two Fe treatments (high and low Fe supply). This work suggests that total root Cu concentration might be a simple, sensitive indicator of Cu rhizotoxicity. It also indicated that Cu phytotoxicity which may have resulted in Fe deficiency and significant increase in root-induced release of complexing compounds (presumably phytosiderophores) was independent of the level of Fe supply provided that the threshold values of phytotoxicity were based on the free Cu-ion concentration.


Copper Iron Phytotoxicity Root exudates Rhizotoxicity Triticum turgidum durum L. 



We thank Didier Arnal, Nicole Balsera and Lucien Roger for technical help. We also thank Jean-François Briat, Michel Mench and Erik Smolders for their constructive comments. Financial support for this work was provided by the French ECCO-ECODYN programme.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Aurélia M. Michaud
    • 1
  • Carole Chappellaz
    • 1
  • Philippe Hinsinger
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.UMR 1222 Biogéochimie du Sol et de la RhizosphèreINRAMontpellierFrance

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