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Monitoring the sensitivity of selected crops to lead, cadmium and arsenic

Keywords: heavy metals , crops , germination , growth , tolerance

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Heavy metals are highly toxic environmental pollutants. In plants, these compounds cause numerous slighter or stronger toxic effects. They inhibit root and shoot growth and yield production, affect nutrient uptake and homeostasis, and are frequently accumulated by agriculturally important crops. Effects of heavy metals on five selected species of agricultural crops were monitored. We focused our attention to general and commonly used stress indicators such as seed germination, weight and length of roots and shoots. Each of these characteristics was dependent on the tested plant species and tested heavy metals. Dosage of lead (500 mg/l) had little effect on seed germination, cadmium (300 mg/l) significantly affected seed germination of pea and barley, arsenic (100 mg/l) caused total inhibition of seed germination in all tested plant species. Plants grow in soil contaminated with heavy metals showed several symptoms of metal toxicity (chlorosis, necrosis of leaf tips, blackening of roots). In general, the highest tolerance to tested metal ions was observed in both varieties of bean, and the lowest sensitivity was observed in soybean plants. The highest degree of toxicity was shown to have tested doses of cadmium and arsenic, the lowest the doses of lead. In general, the lowest tolerance indexes were determined based on the decrease in fresh weight of roots.


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