Oxidative stress in Scenedesmus sp. during short- and long-term exposure to Cu2+ and Zn2+.Chemosphere. 2006 Jan; 62(4):538-44.C
Algae are exposed to elevated levels of heavy metals in water bodies generally for a long-term, and occasionally for a short-term duration. The present study deals with oxidative stress in Scenedesmus sp., commonly found in nutrient-rich freshwaters, during short- (6h) and long-term (7d) exposure to Cu(2+) and Zn(2+). The cells accumulated almost 2- and 4-times more Cu(2+) and Zn(2+) inside the cells during long-term than during short-term exposure to these metals. But the data on photosynthetic O(2) evolution and cell viability suggest that Scenedesmus sp. experienced lesser metal stress in long-term than in short-term experiment. Although malondialdehyde content was slightly higher in the long-term experiment, the amount produced by one unit intracellular metal was significantly lower than that in the short-term experiment. Superoxide dismutase activity of Scenedesmus sp. was >30% higher during long-term than during short-term exposure to Cu(2+) and Zn(2+). But, catalase and ascorbate peroxidase activities increased only at 2.5 microM Cu(2+) and 25 microM Zn(2+) when oxidative stress was mild, but were inhibited at 10 microM Cu(2+) under intense oxidative stress. Cu(2+) and Zn(2+) reduced glutathione reductase activity and total SH content of Scenedesmus sp. in both the experiments, with greater reduction occurring in the long-term experiment. The depletion of total thiol was positively related with the intracellular level of metals. Thiols might have helped Scenedesmus sp. in overcoming metal-induced oxidative stress, but depletion of thiol pool is known to make cells vulnerable to oxidative stress. The study suggests that antioxidant enzymes play a role only under mild oxidative stress. An increased accumulation of proline seems to be an important strategy for alleviating metal-induced oxidative stress in Scenedesmus sp. The study shows that Scenedesmus sp. could acclimatize during long-term exposure to toxic concentrations of the test metals.