Selenium supplementation alleviates cadmium-induced damages in tall fescue through modulating antioxidant system, photosynthesis efficiency, and gene expression

  • Huiying Li
  • Xiaofei Liu
  • Misganaw Wassie
  • Liang ChenEmail author
Research Article


Selenium (Se) is beneficial for plant growth under different stressful conditions. In this study, we investigated the protective effects of Se supply from Cd-induced damages in tall fescue under Cd stress. Tall fescue seedlings (40 days old) were treated with Cd (30 mg/L, as CdSO4·8/3 H2O) and Se (0.1 mg/L, as Na2SeO3) individually and in combination using 1/2 Hoagland’s solution system for 7 days. Various physiological parameters, photosynthetic behaviors, and gene expressions were measured. The results showed that Cd-stressed plants displayed obvious toxicity symptoms such as leaf yellowing, decreasing plant height, and root length. Cd stress significantly increased the malondialdehyde (MDA) content and electrolyte leakage (EL), and remarkably reduced the chlorophyll and soluble protein content, antioxidant enzyme activities, and photosynthetic efficiency. Cd stress significantly inhibited the expression of two photosynthesis-related genes (psbB and psbC), but not psbA. In addition, it significantly inhibited the expression of antioxidant system-related genes such as ChlCu/ZnSOD, CytCu/ZnSOD, GPX, and pAPX, but significantly increased the expression of GR. However, Se improved the overall physiological and photosynthetic behaviors of Cd-stressed plants. Se significantly enhanced the chlorophyll and soluble protein content and CAT and SOD activities, but decreased MDA contents, EL, and Cd content and translocation in tall fescue under Cd stress. Furthermore, under Cd stress, Se increased the expression of psbA, psbB psbC, ChlCu/ZnSOD, CytCu/ZnSOD, GPx, and PAPx. The result suggests that Se alleviated the deleterious effects of Cd and improved Cd resistance in tall fescue through upregulating the antioxidant system, photosynthesis activities, and gene expressions.


Tall fescue Cadmium Selenium Oxidative stress Photosynthesis activity Gene expression 


Funding information

This research was funded by Poverty Alleviation through Agricultural Projects from the Agricultural Office of Chinese Academy of Sciences and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Nos. 31672482).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Supplementary material

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Table S1 (DOCX 17 kb)
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Table S2 (DOCX 13 kb)
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Fig. S1 (JPG 2505 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Huiying Li
    • 1
  • Xiaofei Liu
    • 2
  • Misganaw Wassie
    • 1
    • 3
  • Liang Chen
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.CAS Key Laboratory of Plant Germplasm Enhancement and Specialty Agriculture, Wuhan Botanical Garden,The Innovative Academy of Seed DesignChinese Academy of SciencesWuhanChina
  2. 2.Department of Pratacultural Sciences, College of AgronomyHunan Agricultural UniversityChangshaChina
  3. 3.University of Chinese Academy of Sciences China, Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

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