Reduced phytotoxicity of nonylphenol on tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.) plants by earthworm casts.Environ Pollut. 2020 Jun 15; 265(Pt A):115020.EP
Concentrations as high as thousands of milligrams per kilogram (dry weight) of nonylphenol (NP), an endocrine-disrupting chemical of great concern, have been reported in soil. Soil is considered one of the primary pathways for exposure of crop plants to NP. However, there have been few studies on the toxicity of soil NP to crop plants, especially with comprehensive consideration of the application of organic fertiliser which is a common agricultural practice. In this study, tomato plants were grown in soils treated with NP in the presence and/or absence of earthworm casts (EWCs). After four weeks, we tested the physiological and biochemical responses (accumulative levels of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) and superoxide anion radicals (O2-·), total chlorophyll content, degree of membrane lipid peroxidation, activities of defence-related enzymes, and level of DNA damage) and the changes in plant growth (elongation and biomass). The growth inhibition, reactive oxygen species (H2O2 and O2-·) accumulation, decrease in chlorophyll content, increase in activity of defence-related enzymes (including superoxide dismutase, peroxidase, catalase, ascorbate peroxidase, glutathione S-transferase and glutathione reductase), enhancement of membrane lipid peroxidation, and DNA damage in NP-treated seedlings were clearly reversed by the intervention of EWCs. In particular, the suppressed elongation, biomass, and chlorophyll content in tomato plants exposed to NP alone were significantly restored by EWCs to even greater levels than those of the undisturbed control. In other words, EWCs could efficiently invigorate the photosynthesis of crops via up-regulating the chlorophyll content, thereby overwhelming the NP stress on plant growth. Accordingly, except for reducing the bioavailability of soil NP as reported in our previous study, EWCs could also help crop plants to cope with NP stress by strengthening their stress resistance ability. Our findings are of practical significance for the formulation of strategies to relieve the negative effects of soil NP on crop growth.