Antioxidant Defense System in Plants Exposed to Metal Toxicity

  • Nalini Pandey


Heavy metals are abiotic pollutants and plants are susceptible to heavy metal toxicity. There is a two way relationships between the abundance of heavy metals and manifestation of their toxicity. Thus on the one hand, heavy metals compete with essential mineral nutrients for uptake thereby disturbing the mineral nutrition of plants and on the other hand, after uptake by the plant, they accumulate in plant tissue and cell compartments and hampers the general growth and metabolism of the plant. Many heavy metals like Fe, Cu, Cd, Cr, Zn, Ni etc. have been shown to cause oxidative damage in various higher plants by production of free toxic oxygen radicals. In order to cope with highly toxic metals or to maintain the level of essential metals within the physiological range, plants have developed a variety of complex mechanisms for metals tolerance. While major step is to accumulate and compartmentalize the metals in plant tissue, antioxidative sytem comprising of non-enzymatic and enzymatic components have also been observed. These include antioxidants like ascorbate (ASC), glutathione (GSH), carotenoids, flavonoids and enzymes of the water-water and ASC-GSH cycle via the enzyme superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT), peroxidase (POD) and ascorbate peroxidase (APX) for breakdown of hydrogen peroxide and in the regeneration of ascorbate (ASA) from monodehydro-ascorbate reductase (MDHAR) and dehydro-ascorbate reductase (DHAR) and GSH is oxidized to glutathione disulphide (GSSG) by glutathione reductase (GR). This chapter throws light on the studies carried out on oxidative stress which indicates that antioxidative defense mechanism has an important role to play in overcoming oxidative damage in heavy metal stressed stress plants.


Heavy metals ROS Oxidative stress Antioxidants Antioxidative enzymes 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nalini Pandey
    • 1
  1. 1.Plant Nutrition and Stress Physiology Laboratory, Department of BotanyUniversity of LucknowLucknowIndia

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