Chromium retention potential of two contrasting Solanum lycopersicum Mill. cultivars as deciphered by altered pH dynamics, growth, and organic acid exudation under Cr stress

Abstract

Chromium (Cr), being a persistent toxic heavy metal, triggered the retardation of plant’s metabolic processes by initiating changes in rhizospheric zone. Current study focused the Cr accumulation potential of two tomato (Solanum lycopersicum Mill.) cultivars through alterations of rhizospheric pH and exudation of organic acids together with plant’s ionomics and morpho-physiological responses. Four-week-old seedlings of tomato cultivars (cv. Nakeb and cv. Nadir) were maintained in hydroponic solutions supplemented with 0, 100, 200, and 300 mg/L K2Cr2O7 and a start pH of 6.0. The pH of the growth medium was monitored twice a day up to 6 days as well as mineral contents and morpho-physiological attributes were recorded by harvesting half of plants after 1 week. The remaining half plants were shifted to rhizoboxes for the collection of root exudates. After 6 days, cv. Nakeb exhibited medium acidification by 0.7 units while cv. Nadir showed basification by 0.6 units under 300 mg/L treatment. Increase in applied Cr levels enhanced the root and shoot Cr accumulation in both cultivars with concomitant reduction in growth and accumulation of nutrients (Fe, Zn, K, Mg, and Ca). However, this reduction in biomass and nutrient acquisition was predominant in cv. Nakeb as compared to cv. Nadir. The release of organic acid exudates (citric, acetic, maleic, tartaric, and oxalic acids) was also recorded higher in cv. Nadir at 300 mg/L applied Cr level. This enhanced production of organic acids caused greater retention of mineral nutrients and Cr in cv. Nadir, probably due to growth medium basification. Enhanced exudations of di- and tri- carboxylic organic acids together with accumulation of mineral nutrients are the physiological and biochemical indicators which confer this genotype a better adaptation to Cr polluted biotic systems. Furthermore, it was perceived that organic acid and rhizospheric pH variation response by studied tomato cultivars under Cr stress is an important factor to be considered in food safety and metal remediation programs.

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Acknowledgments

The authors would like to thank Ayub Agricultural Research Institute (ARRI), Faisalabad, Pakistan, for providing seedlings of tomato cultivars.

Funding

Current work was funded by Higher Education Commission (HEC), Pakistan (Grant No: 20-4243/NRPU/R&D/HEC/14/885)

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MTJ, KT, SA, and HJC: planning of study; KT, SA, and RI: experimental work; KT, SA, and MHS: statistical analysis and critical review; MTJ. KT, MHS, HJC, and SA: data discussion. All the authors approved the final version of the manuscript. The presented data is the part of MPhil research work of Ms. Robina Iqbal.

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Correspondence to Muhammad Tariq Javed.

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Javed, M.T., Tanwir, K., Abbas, S. et al. Chromium retention potential of two contrasting Solanum lycopersicum Mill. cultivars as deciphered by altered pH dynamics, growth, and organic acid exudation under Cr stress. Environ Sci Pollut Res (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-020-12269-8

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Keywords

  • Chromium tolerance
  • Food safety
  • Hydroponics
  • Phytoremediation
  • pH modulations
  • Rhizoboxes
  • Root exudates
  • Tomato cultivars