Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 25, Issue 5, pp 4739–4749 | Cite as

Indicators of environmental contamination by heavy metals in leaves of Taraxacum officinale in two zones of the metropolitan area of Mexico City

  • Sandra Gómez-ArroyoEmail author
  • Arisbel Barba-García
  • Francisco Arenas-Huertero
  • Josefina Cortés-Eslava
  • Michel Grutter de la Mora
  • Rocío García-Martínez
Research Article


The present study was designed to detect the effect of heavy metals in two zones of the Metropolitan Area of Mexico City (MAMC), the Centro de Ciencias de la Atmósfera (CCA), and the Altzomoni station in the Iztaccíhuatl-Popocatépetl National Park. Taraxacum officinale was selected as the indicator organism of responses to atmospheric contamination by heavy metals. Determinations of heavy metals were performed, and total mRNA was extracted to quantify the expression of microRNA398 (miR398), superoxide dismutase 2 (CSD2), and the amounts of free radicals using the bromide of 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazole-2-ilo)-2,5-diphenyltetrazole (MTT) salts reduction assay. Results from the Altzomoni station showed high concentrations of five heavy metals, especially Aluminum, while three heavy metals were identified in the CCA-UNAM zone, most importantly, Vanadium, both in the dry season; miR398 expression presented subtle changes but was greater in the leaves from the stations with higher concentrations of heavy metals. Observations included a significant expression of CSD2, mainly in the dry season in both study zones, where levels were significant with respect to controls (p < 0.05). Reduced MTT was also higher in the dry season than in the rainy season (p < 0.05). In conclusion, the increase in heavy metals on the leaves of Taraxacum officinale induces increased expression of the CSD2 gene and reduced MTT; thus, they can be used as indicators for biomonitoring heavy metal concentrations.


MicroRNAs Atmospheric pollution Dry and rainy seasons Taraxacum officinale Heavy metals 



The authors would like to thank the Programa de Apoyo a Proyectos de Investigación e Innovación Tecnológica (PAPIIT-DGAPA), Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México for financial support through the project IN225114, to Ana Rosa Flores Márquez for her technical assistance, to Claudio Amescua for his editing assistance, and to Dirección de Investigación of Hospital Infantil de México Federico Gómez.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratorio de Genotoxicología Ambiental, Centro de Ciencias de la AtmósferaUniversidad Nacional Autónoma de MéxicoCiudad de MéxicoMexico
  2. 2.Laboratorio de Investigación en Patología ExperimentalHospital Infantil de México Federico GómezCiudad de MéxicoMexico
  3. 3.Laboratorio de Espectroscopía y Percepción Remota, Centro de Ciencias de la AtmósferaUniversidad Nacional Autónoma de MéxicoCiudad de MéxicoMexico
  4. 4.Laboratorio de Aerosoles Atmosféricos, Centro de Ciencias de la AtmósferaUniversidad Nacional Autónoma de MéxicoCiudad de MéxicoMexico

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