Plant’s Adaptive Mechanisms under Arsenic Pollution

  • Rabia Amir
  • Momina Hayat
  • Irum Nauman
  • Marrium Khan
  • Faiza Munir


Metals/metalloids such as arsenic (As), cadmium, lead, and mercury are nonessential elements. High tissue concentrations of all these metals constitute stress and are proven to be toxic to plants. When the metal concentration in plant tissues exceeds tolerant levels, several vital plant processes such as photosynthesis, transpiration, nitrogen fixation (in leguminous plants), and carbohydrate metabolism are disrupted. Other metabolic disturbances include disruption of crucial biomolecules such as enzymes, damage to the cytoplasmic membrane, hindering functional groups of important cellular molecules, and the disruption of plant homeostasis by producing reactive oxygen species (ROS). Arsenite and arsenate produce ROS such as superoxides or peroxides in plants on exposure. ROS can damage amino acids, nucleic acids, proteins, or lipids which compromise the cellular function and can even cause cell death in plants. Moreover, As consumption is proven to be highly toxic to both animals and humans. Many plants are used as food sources around the globe. Hence, it is imperative to develop remediation measures for combating metal toxicity. Research studies have unraveled the physiology of how plants adapt when presented with elevated levels of As. The plants are highly susceptible to accumulate, uptake, and transport As to the higher levels which become toxic for the plants. In this chapter plants’ tolerance mechanisms particular to As stress will be discussed. These mechanisms include metal hyperaccumulation, modification of the uptake system, and adaptation via other organisms, chelation, and precipitation.


Arsenic toxicity ROS HSP Metallothioneins Metal detoxification 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rabia Amir
    • 1
  • Momina Hayat
    • 1
  • Irum Nauman
    • 1
  • Marrium Khan
    • 1
  • Faiza Munir
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Plant Biotechnology, Atta-ur-Rahman School of Applied Biosciences (ASAB)National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST)IslamabadPakistan

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