The accumulation of cadmium in wheat (Triticum aestivum) as influenced by zinc oxide nanoparticles and soil moisture conditions
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Both cadmium (Cd) contamination in agricultural soils and drought stress pose a serious problem for crop quality and human health. Owing to the specific physical and chemical characteristics, zinc oxide (ZnO) nanoparticles (NPs) can be used in agriculture as a nanofertilizer but their impact on Cd accumulation in wheat (Triticum aestivum) grains under normal and limited water conditions remains insufficient. In this study, the efficiency of ZnO NPs on Cd intake by wheat was investigated under normal and water-limited conditions grown in Cd-contaminated soil for 125 days after seed sowing. The lower biomass and higher oxidative stress were observed in the tissues of the control and drought stress further decreased the plant biomass and caused oxidative stress. Zinc oxide NP treatments increased the tissue dry weight and minimized the oxidative stress either Cd stress alone or combined with drought. Drought stress enhanced the Cd contents in wheat tissues and grains, while ZnO NPs significantly reduced the Cd accumulation in tissues and grains by reducing the soil bioavailable Cd and its accumulation by roots. These findings depicted that NP application to contaminated soils can promote wheat productivity and effectively alleviate soil Cd contamination either alone or under water-limited conditions. The baseline data demonstrated in this study provide insights that pave the way towards safer wheat production under combined drought and metal stress. However, the application of NPs at field levels with numerous crops and climatic conditions needs to be investigated before final recommendation.
KeywordsCadmium Drought Nanoparticles Zinc Wheat
This work is financially supported by the Government College University and the higher education commission of Pakistan (for the research funding via Project No. 5634/Punjab/NRPU/R&D/HEC/2016).
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