Cadmium Toxicity in Plants

  • Elisa Andresen
  • Hendrik KüpperEmail author
Part of the Metal Ions in Life Sciences book series (MILS, volume 11)


Cadmium is an important pollutant in the environment, toxic to most organisms and a potential threat to human health: Crops and other plants take up Cd from the soil or water and may enrich it in their roots and shoots. In this review, we summarize natural and anthropogenic reasons for the occurrence of Cd toxicity, and evaluate the observed phytotoxic effects of plants growing in Cd-supplemented soil or nutrient solution. Cd-induced effects include oxidative stress, genotoxicity, inhibition of the photosynthetic apparatus, and inhibition of root metabolism. We explain proposed and possible interactions between these modes of toxicity. While discussing recent and older studies, we further emphasize the environmental relevance of the experiments and the physiological response of the plant.


cadmium cytotoxicity genotoxocity oxidative stress photosynthesis inhibition substitution of essential metals 



ascorbate peroxidase


adenosine 5'-triphosphate










ethylenediamine-N,N,N',N'-tetraacetic acid


electron paramagnetic resonance


minimal fluorescence quantum yield of in vivo chlorophyll fluorescence of a photosynthetic organism in dark adapted state, when the plastoquinone pool is completely oxidized


maximal fluorescence quantum yield of in vivo chlorophyll fluorescence of a photosynthetic organism in dark adapted state during an oversaturating light flash, leading to complete reduction of the plastoquinone pool


Fm–F0 = variable fluorescence


glutathione reductase




light harvesting complex II


mitotic index, number of cells in metaphase stage




nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate


photosystem I


photosystem II


rapid amplification of polymorphism DNA analyses


reaction center


reactive oxygen species




superoxide dismutase


somatic mutation and recombination test





The authors would like to thank the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, projects KU 1495/7-1 and KU 1495/8-1), the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD), the Fonds der Chemischen Industrie (FCI), and the University of Konstanz for financial support.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Fachbereich BiologieUniversität KonstanzKonstanzGermany

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