Phytochelatin and Oxidative Stress Under Heavy Metal Stress Tolerance in Plants

  • Weitao Liu
  • Xue Zhang
  • Lichen Liang
  • Chen Chen
  • Shuhe WeiEmail author
  • Qixing Zhou


With the rapid developing of industry and agriculture, heavy metal pollution in environment has been both serious and widespread worldwide. To cope with adverse environmental heavy metal toxicity, plants have evolved a variety of adaptive responses, which include immobilization, exclusion, chelation, and compartmentalization of metal ions and often involve metal-binding ligands. Particularly, phytochelatins (PCs), a family of peptides, have been regarded as the best-characterized heavy metal chelators especially in detoxication of heavy metals such as cadmium (Cd) in plants and some microorganisms. Generally, PCs have the general structure (γ-Glu-Cys) n -Gly (n = 2–11) and are produced by the enzyme phytochelatin synthases, which can bind to various metals including Cd, As Cu, or Zn. In this chapter, we focused on the biosynthesis and function of PCs and the role of PCs in metal detoxification and tolerance. Finally, the molecular biology of PCs has been briefly reviewed.


Heavy metals Plants Oxidative damage Tolerance Phytochelatins 



This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (41471411, 21107052, 31270540, 31070455, and 40971184). The authors would also like to thank the Open Fund of Key Laboratory of Contaminated Environment Control and Regional Ecology Safety (grant No. SYU-KF-L-03) & Open Fund of Key Laboratory of Regional Environment Eco-remediation, Education Ministry (grant No. SYU-KF-E-03) for a partial support.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Weitao Liu
    • 1
  • Xue Zhang
    • 1
  • Lichen Liang
    • 1
  • Chen Chen
    • 1
  • Shuhe Wei
    • 2
    Email author
  • Qixing Zhou
    • 1
  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Pollution Processes and Environmental Criteria, Ministry of Education/Tianjin Key Laboratory of Urban Ecology Environmental Remediation and Pollution Control, College of Environmental Science and EngineeringNankai UniversityTianjinChina
  2. 2.Key Laboratory of Pollution Ecology and Environmental Engineering, Institute of Applied EcologyChinese Academy of SciencesShenheChina

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