Water, Air, and Soil Pollution

, Volume 138, Issue 1–4, pp 165–180 | Cite as

Heavy Metal Toxicity: Effect on Plant Growth and Metal Uptake by Wheat, and on Free Living Azotobacter

  • Rana Athar
  • Masood Ahmad


A pot study was conducted to investigate the toxiceffects of certain heavy metals on the plant growth and grainyield of wheat (Triticum aestivum L.). The resultsrevealed that heavy metals brought about significant reductionsin both parameters, Cd being the most toxic metal followed by Cu,Ni, Zn, Pb and Cr. Moreover, the presence of Cd in the soilresulted in the maximum inhibition (84.9%) in the number of freeliving Azotobacter chroococcum cells over the control. Thephytotoxicity was apparently due to the susceptibility of thefree living Azotobacter chroococcum cells to the toxicdoses of heavy metals.Protein content decreased from 19.0–71.4% in metal exposedplants at metal concentrations equivalent to those found inpolluted soil. Metal uptake by grains was directly related tothe applied heavy metal with greater concentrations of metalsfound in cases where metals were added separately rather than incombinations. The toxic effects on the plant growth, nitrogencontent in plant parts, and protein content in grains, exerted bytwo metals in combination were not additive, but rather only assevere as for the most toxic metal alone.

heavy metals heavy metal uptake nitrogenfixation phytotoxicity wheat 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rana Athar
    • 1
  • Masood Ahmad
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute of AgricultureAligarh Muslim UniversityAligarh (U.P.)India
  2. 2.Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Life SciencesAligarh Muslim UniversityAligarh (U.P.)India

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