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Effect of cadmium and calcium treatments on phytochelatin and glutathione levels in citrus plants



Industry residues, phosphate fertilisers and wastewater as a source of irrigation have considerably increased levels of heavy metals in the soil, mainly cadmium (Cd2+). To test the effects of a calcium (Ca2+) treatment on Cd2+ accumulation and plant tolerance to this heavy metal, plants of two citrus genotypes, Cleopatra mandarin (CM) and Carrizo citrange (CC), were watered with increasing concentrations of Cd2+, and phytochelatin (PC) and glutathione (GSH) content were measured. Both genotypes were able to synthesise PCs in response to heavy metal intoxication, although CM seems to be a better Cd2+ excluder than CC. However, data indicate that CC plants had a higher capacity for regenerating GSH than CM plants. In this context, the effects of Ca2+ treatment on Cd2+ accumulation, plant survival and PC, GSH and oxidised glutathione (GSSG) content were assessed. Data indicate that treatment with Ca2+ had two positive effects on citrus physiology: it reduced Cd+2 uptake into roots and also increased GSH content (even in the absence of Cd2+). Overall, the data indicate that although Cd2+ exclusion is a powerful mechanism to avoid heavy metal build-up into photosynthetic organs, the capacity to maintain optimum GSH levels to feed PC biosynthesis could also be an important factor in stress tolerance.