Heavy-metal-induced reactive oxygen species: phytotoxicity and physicochemical changes in plants.Rev Environ Contam Toxicol. 2014; 232:1-44.RE
As a result of the industrial revolution, anthropogenic activities have enhanced there distribution of many toxic heavy metals from the earth's crust to different environmental compartments. Environmental pollution by toxic heavy metals is increasing worldwide, and poses a rising threat to both the environment and to human health.Plants are exposed to heavy metals from various sources: mining and refining of ores, fertilizer and pesticide applications, battery chemicals, disposal of solid wastes(including sewage sludge), irrigation with wastewater, vehicular exhaust emissions and adjacent industrial activity.Heavy metals induce various morphological, physiological, and biochemical dysfunctions in plants, either directly or indirectly, and cause various damaging effects. The most frequently documented and earliest consequence of heavy metal toxicity in plants cells is the overproduction of ROS. Unlike redox-active metals such as iron and copper, heavy metals (e.g, Pb, Cd, Ni, AI, Mn and Zn) cannot generate ROS directly by participating in biological redox reactions such as Haber Weiss/Fenton reactions. However, these metals induce ROS generation via different indirect mechanisms, such as stimulating the activity of NADPH oxidases, displacing essential cations from specific binding sites of enzymes and inhibiting enzymatic activities from their affinity for -SH groups on the enzyme.Under normal conditions, ROS play several essential roles in regulating the expression of different genes. Reactive oxygen species control numerous processes like the cell cycle, plant growth, abiotic stress responses, systemic signalling, programmed cell death, pathogen defence and development. Enhanced generation of these species from heavy metal toxicity deteriorates the intrinsic antioxidant defense system of cells, and causes oxidative stress. Cells with oxidative stress display various chemical,biological and physiological toxic symptoms as a result of the interaction between ROS and biomolecules. Heavy-metal-induced ROS cause lipid peroxidation, membrane dismantling and damage to DNA, protein and carbohydrates. Plants have very well-organized defense systems, consisting of enzymatic and non-enzymatic antioxidation processes. The primary defense mechanism for heavy metal detoxification is the reduced absorption of these metals into plants or their sequestration in root cells.Secondary heavy metal tolerance mechanisms include activation of antioxidant enzymes and the binding of heavy metals by phytochelatins, glutathione and amino acids. These defense systems work in combination to manage the cascades of oxidative stress and to defend plant cells from the toxic effects of ROS.In this review, we summarized the biochemiCal processes involved in the over production of ROS as an aftermath to heavy metal exposure. We also described the ROS scavenging process that is associated with the antioxidant defense machinery.Despite considerable progress in understanding the biochemistry of ROS overproduction and scavenging, we still lack in-depth studies on the parameters associated with heavy metal exclusion and tolerance capacity of plants. For example, data about the role of glutathione-glutaredoxin-thioredoxin system in ROS detoxification in plant cells are scarce. Moreover, how ROS mediate glutathionylation (redox signalling)is still not completely understood. Similarly, induction of glutathione and phytochelatins under oxidative stress is very well reported, but it is still unexplained that some studied compounds are not involved in the detoxification mechanisms. Moreover,although the role of metal transporters and gene expression is well established for a few metals and plants, much more research is needed. Eventually, when results for more metals and plants are available, the mechanism of the biochemical and genetic basis of heavy metal detoxification in plants will be better understood. Moreover, by using recently developed genetic and biotechnological tools it may be possible to produce plants that have traits desirable for imparting heavy metal tolerance.