Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 26, Issue 19, pp 19261–19271 | Cite as

Exogenous application of ascorbic acid mitigates cadmium toxicity and uptake in Maize (Zea mays L.)

  • Kangping Zhang
  • Guiyin Wang
  • Mingchen Bao
  • Longchang WangEmail author
  • Xiaoyu XieEmail author
Research Article


Cadmium (Cd) contamination in agricultural soils is a prevalent environmental issue and poses potential threats to food security. Foliar ascorbic acid might prove a potent tool to alleviate toxicity of Cd toxicity in maize. An experiment was conducted with objectives to study exogenous ascorbic acid–modulated improvements in physiochemical attributes of maize under Cd toxicity. The experiment was conducted under completely randomized design. Treatments were comprised of varying concentrations of foliar ascorbic acid viz. 0.0, 0.1, 0.3, and 0.5 mM of AsA. Toxicity of Cd decreased the maize growth, increased lipid peroxidation, disturbed protein metabolism, and reduced the antioxidant defense capabilities compared with the control. However, foliar AsA significantly improved maize growth and development, photosynthetic capabilities, and protein concentrations in Cd-stressed maize plants. Meanwhile, the malondialdehyde contents and hydrogen peroxide accumulation levels in Cd-stressed maize plants decreased remarkably with increasing AsA concentrations. Furthermore, the combined treatments conspicuously boosted activities of superoxide dismutase, peroxidase, catalase, and glutathione reductase under the Cd stress alone. In addition, the application of AsA reduced the Cd uptake by 10.3–12.3% in grains. Conclusively, foliar ascorbic acid alleviated the negative effects of Cd stress in maize and improved photosynthetic processes, osmolytes, and antioxidant defense systems.


Ascorbic acid Cadmium uptake Cadmium toxicity Oxidative damage Maize Antioxidant defense 



The authors thank Dr. Meichun Duan, Dr. Sai Zhang, and Yi Xing of Southwest University for supporting the analytical work, and also thank Shakeel Ahmad Anjum from the Department of Agronomy, University of Agriculture Faisalabad, Pakistan, for the critical revision of the manuscript.

Funding information

This research was financially supported by the Special Fund for Agro-scientific Research in the Public Interest (201503127) and National Natural Science Foundation of China (31271673, 31871583).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Agronomy and Biotechnology, Ministry of EducationSouthwest University/Engineering Research Center of South Upland AgricultureChongqingChina
  2. 2.College of Environmental ScienceSichuan Agricultural UniversityWenjiangChina

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