Biochemical and Metabolic Plant Responses toward Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons and Heavy Metals Present in Atmospheric Pollution

Molina, L.áz.; Segura, A.

Plants 10(11)


ISSN/ISBN: 2223-7747
PMID: 34834668
Accession: 079464049

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Heavy metals (HMs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are toxic components of atmospheric particles. These pollutants induce a wide variety of responses in plants, leading to tolerance or toxicity. Their effects on plants depend on many different environmental conditions, not only the type and concentration of contaminant, temperature or soil pH, but also on the physiological or genetic status of the plant. The main detoxification process in plants is the accumulation of the contaminant in vacuoles or cell walls. PAHs are normally transformed by enzymatic plant machinery prior to conjugation and immobilization; heavy metals are frequently chelated by some molecules, with glutathione, phytochelatins and metallothioneins being the main players in heavy metal detoxification. Besides these detoxification mechanisms, the presence of contaminants leads to the production of the reactive oxygen species (ROS) and the dynamic of ROS production and detoxification renders different outcomes in different scenarios, from cellular death to the induction of stress resistances. ROS responses have been extensively studied; the complexity of the ROS response and the subsequent cascade of effects on phytohormones and metabolic changes, which depend on local concentrations in different organelles and on the lifetime of each ROS species, allow the plant to modulate its responses to different environmental clues. Basic knowledge of plant responses toward pollutants is key to improving phytoremediation technologies.