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Lead-induced oxidative stress and role of antioxidant defense in wheat (Triticum aestivum L.)


The aim of this study was to investigate soil lead pollution on biochemical properties and gene expression pattern of antioxidant enzymes in three wheat cultivars (Morvarid, Gonbad and Tirgan) at flag leaf sheath swollen stage. Lead (Pb(NO3)2) was used at four different concentrations (0, 15, 30 and 45 mg/kg of soil). The leaf and roots samples were taken at late-booting stage (Zadoks code, GS: 45). The results showed that lead heavy metal toxicity increased the expression of some genes and the activity of key enzymes of the antioxidant defense system in wheat. Moreover, the cell oxidation levels (MDA, LOX) enhanced under lead stress conditions. The relative gene expression and activity of antioxidant enzymes (CAT, SOD, GPX and APX) increased significantly in the both leaves and root tissues under lead stress conditions. The level of gene expression and enzymatic activity were higher in the root than the leaf tissue. There was no significant difference among cultivars in each of lead concentrations but Morvarid and Tirgan cultivars had more tolerance to toxic concentrations of lead when compared to Gonbad cultivar.

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Pb(NO3)2 :

Lead (II) nitrate


Growth stage








Superoxide dismutase


Guaiacol peroxidase


Ascorbate peroxidase


Reactive oxygen species


Deoxy ribonucleic acid


Adenosine tri phosphate


Thiobarbituric acid-reactive materials

O2 :




O2 :


H2O2 :

Hydrogen peroxide


Environmental protection administration

HgCl2 :

Mercury (II) chloride


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We thank Seed and Plant Improvement Institute (SPII) for providing the genetic materials. This work was supported by a grant from Gorgan University of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources.


This study has been supported by Gorgan University of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources (Grant Number: 95-354-71).

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Study conception and design: SN, SB and AY. Acquisition of data: HK and SB. Analysis and interpretation of data: HK and SN. Drafting of manuscript: HK, SB. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Saeid Navabpour.

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Navabpour, S., Yamchi, A., Bagherikia, S. et al. Lead-induced oxidative stress and role of antioxidant defense in wheat (Triticum aestivum L.). Physiol Mol Biol Plants 26, 793–802 (2020).

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  • Triticum aestivum L.
  • Lead
  • Gene expression
  • Antioxidant enzymes