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Genotoxic endpoints in a Pb-accumulating pea cultivar: insights into Pb2+ contamination limits


Lead (Pb) persists among the most hazardous contaminant metals. Pb-induced genotoxic effects remain a matter of debate as they are a major cause of plant growth impairment, but assessing Pb genotoxicity requires the selection of Pb-sensitive genotoxic biomarkers. Seedlings of the ecotoxicological model species Pisum sativum L. were exposed to Pb2+ (≤ 2000 mg L−1). Flow cytometry (FCM) revealed that 28 days after, Pb2+ arrested root cell cycle at G2 but no eu/aneuploidies were found. Comet assay and FCM-clastogenicity assays showed that Pb2+ increased DNA breaks in roots at concentrations as low as 20 mg L−1. Leaves showed no variation in DNA-ploidy or cell cycle progression but had increased DNA breaks at the highest Pb2+ dose. We conclude that both Comet assay and the full-peak coefficient of variation (FPCV) were the most relevant endpoints of Pb-phytogenotoxicity. Also, the Pb-induced DNA breaks may be related with the arrest at the G2-checkpoint. Data will be relevant to better define Pb2+ ecogenotoxicological effects and their measuring tools and may contribute to a regulatory debate of this pollutant limits.

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This work was funded by FEDER/COMPETE [POCI/01/0145/FEDER/007265; FCT/MEC PT2020 UID/QUI/5006/2019]; Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia funded Nuno Mariz-Ponte, SFRH/BD/138187/2018; Sara Sario, SFRH/BD/138186/2018; and Rafael J. Mendes, SFRH/BD/133519/2017.

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Correspondence to Rafael José Mendes.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Responsible editor: Gangrong Shi

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Rodriguez, E., Sousa, M., Gomes, A. et al. Genotoxic endpoints in a Pb-accumulating pea cultivar: insights into Pb2+ contamination limits. Environ Sci Pollut Res 26, 32368–32373 (2019).

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  • Cytostaticity
  • Comet assay
  • DNA breaks
  • Lead
  • Phytogenotoxicity
  • Pisum sativum