, Volume 53, Issue 4, pp 506–518 | Cite as

Effects of Cd on photosynthesis and growth of safflower (Carthamus tinctorius L.) genotypes

Original Papers


Heavy metals such as cadmium (Cd) may affect different physiological functions in plants. We carried out a hydroponic experiment under greenhouse conditions in order to evaluate the effect of Cd on photosynthetic and physiological parameters of safflower. The responses of six safflower genotypes (Nebraska-10, 2811, Kouseh, S149, C111, and K12) to four concentrations of CdCl2 (0, 1.5, 3, and 4.5 mg L−1) were examined. Mean shoot and root dry masses of safflower plants were reduced by nearly 57% after the treatment by 4.5 mg(CdCl2) L−1. Contrary to the mean proline content, which increased by 121%, the mean total leaf area per plant, net photosynthetic rate, stomatal conductance to the CO2, leaf chlorophyll a, b, and (a+b), carotenoid content, and quantum efficiency of PSII decreased by 84.4, 50.5, 50.0, 31.6, 32.2, 31.8, 32.9, and 11.2%, respectively, at the presence of 4.5 mg(CdCl2) L−1. The mean Cd concentration in shoots and roots of safflower genotypes exhibited 52- and 157-fold increase, respectively, due to the addition of 4.5 mg(CdCl2) L−1 to the growing media. The mean malondialdehyde content was enhanced by 110% with the increasing CdCl2 concentration, indicating the occurrence of a considerable lipid peroxidation in the plant tissues. Even though the membrane stability index was adversely affected by the application of 1.5 mg(CdCl2) L−1, the decrease ranged from 45 to 62% when plants were treated with 4.5 mg(CdCl2) L−1. Genotype Nebraska-10 seemed to be different from the remaining genotypes in response to the 4.5 mg(CdCl2) L−1; its net photosynthetic rate tended to be the greatest and the Cd concentration in shoots and roots was the lowest among genotypes studied. This study proved Cd-induced decline in growth, photosynthesis, and physiological functions of safflower.

Additional key words

cadmium chlorophyll gas exchange lipid peroxidation proline 



substomatal CO2 concentration




Cd concentration in shoots


Cd concentration in roots






dry mass of roots


dry mass of shoots


minimum fluorescence


maximum fluorescence


maximal quantum efficiency of PSII


stomatal conductance to the CO2


lipid peroxidation




membrane stability index


net photosynthetic rate


reactive oxygen species


thiobarbituric acid


thiobarbituric acid reactive substances


trichloroacetic acid


total leaf area per plant


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Copyright information

© The Institute of Experimental Botany 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Agriculture, Department of Agronomy and Plant BreedingIsfahan University of TechnologyIsfahanIran

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