Crop Growth Under Heavy Metals Stress and Its Mitigation

  • Reshu Bhardwaj
  • Shiv Poojan Yadav
  • Rajesh Kumar Singh
  • V. K. Tripathi


Heavy metals are biologically magnified due to continuous accumulation in the natural resources which not only threatens the plants and animals survival but also puts mankind at higher risk lacking excellent defense mechanism. Even at a lower concentration these metals may interact with several biomolecules thereby hampering the physicochemical processes in plants resulting in enzyme deactivation, protein denaturation, or disruption of various metabolic activities. Plants have been continuously known to adapt themselves under any of the prevailing environmental stress condition since their origin on this terrestrial planet through various physical and cellular defense mechanisms. Plants in association with the arbuscular mycorrhizae also limit the translocation of these heavy metals in the shoot system, thus immobilizing these metals in soil. Maximum arable acreage is being degraded by the heavy metals accumulation in the soils thereby reducing the cropping intensity, therefore the faulty practices leading to the biomagnification of these heavy metals should be avoided both at primary and secondary stages of its accumulation. This chapter summarizes the growth and development of plants under heavy metals stress condition, the defense mechanisms, and the mitigation options involved.


Heavy metals Environmental stress Crop Soil Defense mechanism 


  1. Ahmad MS, Ashraf M (2011) Essential roles and hazardous effects of nickel in plants. Rev Environ Contam Toxicol 214:125–167PubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Ahmad JU, Goni MA (2010) Heavy metal contamination in water, soil, and vegetables of the industrial areas in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Environ Monit Assess 166:347–357CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Ahmad MS, Hussain M, Saddiq R, Alvi AK (2007) Mungbean: a nickel indicator, accumulator or excluder? Bull Environ Contam Toxicol 78:319–324CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Ahsan N, Lee DG, Le SH, Kang KY, Lee JJ, Kim PJ, Yoon HS, Kim JS, Lee BH (2007a) Excess copper induced physiological and proteomic changes in germinating rice seeds. Chemosphere 67:1182–1193CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Ahsan N, Lee SH, Lee DG, Lee H, Lee SW, Bahk JD (2007b) Physiological and protein profiles alternation of germinating rice seedlings exposed to acute cadmium toxicity. C R Biol 330:735–746CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Alloway BJ (2013) Sources of heavy metals and metalloids in soils. In: Heavy metals in soils. Springer, Dordrecht, pp 11–50CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Asha LP, Sandeep RS (2013) Review on bioremediation-potential tool for removing environmental pollution. Int J Basic Appl Chem Sci 3(3):21–33Google Scholar
  8. Ashraf MY, Sadiq R, Hussain M, Ashraf M, Ahmad MS (2011) Toxic effect of nickel (Ni) on growth and metabolism in germinating seeds of sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.). Biol Trace Elem Res 143:1695–1703CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Aswood MS (2017) Determination of heavy metals in fertilizer samples by X-ray fluorescence techniques. J Univ Babylon Pure Appl Sci 25(5):1778–1785Google Scholar
  10. Bala R, Setia RC (1990) Some aspects of cadmium and lead toxicity in plants. In: Malik CP, Bhatia DS, Setia RC, Singh P (eds) Advances in Frontier areas of plant sciences. Narendra Publishing House, Delhi, pp 167–180Google Scholar
  11. Borah M, Devi A (2012) Effect of heavy metals on pea (Pisum sativum L.). Int J Adv Biol Res 2(2):314–321Google Scholar
  12. Cunningham SD, Berti WR (1995) Phytoremediation of contaminated soils. Biotech 13:393–397Google Scholar
  13. Dalvi AA, Bhalerao SA (2013) Response of plants towards heavy metal toxicity an overview of avoidance, tolerance and uptake mechanism. Ann Plant Sci 9(2):362–368Google Scholar
  14. Ding C, Zhang T, Wang X, Zhou F, Yang Y, Yin Y (2013) Effects of soil type and genotype on lead concentration in rootstalk vegetables and the selection of cultivars for food safety. J Environ Manage 122:8–14CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Duruibe JO, Ogwuegbu MOC, Egwurugwu JN (2007) Heavy metal pollution and human biotoxic effects. Int J Phys Sci 2:112–118Google Scholar
  16. Fayiga AO, Ma LQ (2006) Using phosphate rock to immobilize metals in soil and increase arsenic uptake by hyper accumulator Pteris vittata. Sci Total Environ 359:17–25CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Flora SJS, Mittal M, Mehta A (2008) Heavy metal induced oxidative stress & its possible reversal by chelation therapy. Indian J Med Res 128(4):501–523PubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Gajewska E, Sklodowska M (2007) Relations between tocopherol, chlorophyll and lipid peroxides contents in shots of Ni-treated wheat. Plant Physiol 164:364–366CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Gopal R, Khurana N (2011) Effect of heavy metal pollutants on sunflower. Afr J Plant Sci 5(9):531–536Google Scholar
  20. Gratao PL, Polle A, Lea PJ, Azevedo RA (2005) Making the life of heavy metal stressed plants a little easier. Funct Plant Biol 32:481–494CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Hall JL (2002) Cellular mechanisms for heavy metal detoxification and tolerance. J Exp Bot 53(366):1–11CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Harada E, Kim JA, Meyer AJ, Hell R, Clemens S, Choi YE (2010) Expression profiling of tobacco leaf trichomes identifies genes for biotic and abiotic stresses. Plant Cell Physiol 51(10):1627–1637CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Hu J, Wu F, Wu S, Sun X, Lin X, Wong MH (2013) Phytoavailability and phytovariety codetermine the bioaccumulation risk of heavy metal from soils, focusing on Cd-contaminated vegetable farms around the Pearl River Delta, China. Ecotoxicol Environ Saf 91:18–24CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Huang JW (1997) Phytoremediation of lead-contaminated soils: role of synthetic chelates in lead phytoextraction. Environ Sci Technol 31:800–805CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. John R, Ahmad P, Gadgil K, Sharma S (2009) Heavy metal toxicity: effect on plant growth, biochemical parameters and metal accumulation by Brassica juncea L. Int J Plant Prod 3:65–76Google Scholar
  26. Kim MK, Kim WL, Jung GB, Yun SG (2001) Safety assessment of heavy metals in agricultural products of Korea. Korean J Environ Agric 20:169–174Google Scholar
  27. Knox AS (1999) Sources and practices contributing to soil contamination, bioremediation of contaminated soils. Am Soc Agron 37:158–162Google Scholar
  28. Mello-Farias PC (2011) Transgenic plants for enhanced phytoremediation – physiological studies, genetic transformation. In: Alvarez M (ed). ISBN: 978-953307-364-4Google Scholar
  29. Mohamed HI (2011) Molecular and biochemical studies on the effect of gamma rays on lead toxicity in cowpea (Vigna sinensis) plants. Biol Trace Elem Res 144(1–3):1205–1218CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Mortvedt JJ (1996) Heavy metal contaminants in inorganic and organic fertilizers. In: Fertilizers and environment. Springer, Dordrecht, pp 5–11CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Mustafiz A, Singh AK, Pareek A, Sopory SK, Singla-Pareek SL (2011) Genome-wide analysis of rice and Arabidopsis identifies two glyoxalase genes that are highly expressed in abiotic stresses. Funct Integr Genomics 11(2):293–305CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Nagajyoti PC, Lee KD, Sreekanth TVM (2010) Heavy metals, occurrence and toxicity for plants: a review. Environ Chem Lett 8:199–216CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Nazir R, Khan M, Masab M, Ur Rehman H, Ur Rauf N, Shahab S, Ameer N, Sajed M, Ullah M, Rafeeq M, Shaheen Z (2015) Accumulation of Heavy Metals (Ni, Cu, Cd, Cr, Pb, Zn, Fe) in the soil, water and plants and analysis of physico-chemical parameters of soil and water Collected from Tanda Dam kohat. J Pharm Sci Res 7(3):89–97Google Scholar
  34. Nowack B (2006) Critical assessment of chelant-enhanced metal phytoextraction. Environ Sci Technol 40:5225–5232CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Pena LB, Azpilicueta CE, Gallego SM (2011) Sunflower cotyledons cope with copper stress by inducing catalase subunits less sensitive to oxidation. J Trace Elem Med Biol 25(3):125–129CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Pendias A, Pendias H (2000) Trace elements in soils and plants. CRC Press, Boca RatonCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Podsiki C (2008) Heavy metals, their salts, and other compounds: a quick reference guide from AIC and the Health & Safety Committee. AIC News 33(6):1–4Google Scholar
  38. Rahoui S, Chaoui A, El Ferjani E (2010) Membrane damage and solute leakage from germinating pea seed under cadmium stress. J Hazard Mater 178(1–3):1128–1131CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Sanita di Toppi L, Gabbrielli R (1999) Response to cadmium in higher plants. Environ Exp Bot 41:105–130CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Sfaxi-Bousbih A, Chaoui A, ElFerjani E (2010) Cadmium impairs mineral and carbohydrate mobilization during the germination of bean seeds. Ecotoxicol Environ Saf 73(6):1123–1129CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Shahid M, Khalid S, Abbas G, Shahid N, Nadeem M, Sabir M, Dumat C (2015) Heavy metal stress and crop productivity. In: Crop production and global environmental issues. Springer, Cham, pp 1–25Google Scholar
  42. Sharma SS, Dietz KJ (2006) The significance of amino acids and amino acid-derived molecules in plant responses and adaptation to heavy metal stress. J Exp Bot 57(4):711–726CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  43. Sharma I, Pati PK, Bhardwaj R (2011) Effect of 28-homobrassinolide on antioxidant defence system in Raphanus sativus L. under chromium toxicity. Ecotoxicology 20:862–874CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Sharma A, Kaur M, Katnoria JK, Nagpal AK (2016) Heavy metal pollution: a global pollutant of rising concern. In: Toxicity and waste management using bioremediation. IGI Global, pp 1–26Google Scholar
  45. Siddiqui MH, Al-Whaibi MH, Basalah MO (2011) Interactive effect of calcium and gibberellin on nickel tolerance in relation to antioxidant systems in Triticum aestivum L. Protoplasma 248(3):503–511CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Singh OV (2003) Phytoremediation: an overview of metallic ion decontamination from soil. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 61:405–412CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Singh D, Nath K, Sharma YK (2007) Response of wheat seed germination and seedling growth under copper stress. J Environ Biol 28:409–414PubMedGoogle Scholar
  48. Singh HP, Kaur G, Batish DR, Kohli RK (2011) Lead (Pb)-inhibited radicle emergence in Brassica campestris involves alterations in starch-metabolizing enzymes. Biol Trace Elem Res 144(1–3):1295–1301CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Smiri M, Chaoui A, Rouhier N, Gelhaye E, Jacquot JP, El Ferjani E (2011) Cadmium affects the glutathione/glutaredoxin system in germinating pea seeds. Biol Trace Elem Res 142(1):93–105CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Soares CRFS, Grazziotti PH, Siqueira JO, Carvalho JGD, Moreira FMS (2001) Zinc toxicity on growth and nutrition of Eucalyptus maculata and Eucalyptus urophylla in nutrient solution. Pesq Agrop Brasileira 36(2):339–348CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Tewari RK, Kumar P, Sharma PN, Bisht SS (2002) Modulation of oxidative stress responsive enzymes by excess cobalt. Plant Sci 162(3):381–388CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Tiwari U, Agnihotri RK, Shrotriya S, Sharma R (2013) Effect of Lead nitrate induced heavy metal toxicity on some biochemical constituents of wheat (Triticum aestivum L.). Res J Agric Sci 4:283–285Google Scholar
  53. Tsay CC, Wang LW, Chen YR (1995) Plant response to Cu toxicity. Taiwa 40(2):173–181Google Scholar
  54. Vangronsveld J, Cunningham SD (1998) Metal contaminated soils: in situ inactivation and phytorestoration. Springer and R G Landes Company, GeorgetownGoogle Scholar
  55. Viehweger K (2014) How plants cope with heavy metals. Bot Stud 55(35):1–12Google Scholar
  56. Wang S, Mulligan CN (2004) An evaluation of surfactant foam technology in remediation of contaminated soil. Chemosphere 57(9):1079–1089CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Wang C, Tian Y, Wang X, Geng J, Jiang J, Yu H, Wang C (2010) Lead-contaminated soil induced oxidative stress, defense response and its indicative biomarkers in roots of Vicia faba seedlings. Ecotoxicology 19(6):1130–1139Google Scholar
  58. Wong HL, Sakamoto T, Kawasaki Umemura TK, Shimamoto K (2004) Down-regulation of metallothionein, a reactive oxygen scavenger, by the small GTPase OsRac1 in rice. Plant Physiol 135(3):1447–1456CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  59. Wuana RA, Okieimen FE (2011) Heavy metals in contaminated soils: a review of sources, chemistry, risks and best available strategies for remediation. ISRN Ecol, Article ID 402647, 20 pGoogle Scholar
  60. Xiao S, Gao W, Chen QF, Ramalingam S, Chye ML (2008) Over expression of membrane associated acyl-CoA binding protein ACBP1 enhances lead tolerance in Arabidopsis. Plant J 54:141–151CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Yusuf M, Fariduddin Q, Varshney P, Ahmad A (2012) Salicylic acid minimizes nickel and/or salinity induced toxicity in Indian mustard (Brassica juncea) through an improved antioxidant system. Environ Sci Pollut Res Int 19:8–18CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Zayed AM, Terry N (1994) Selenium volatilization in roots and shoots: effects of shoot removal and sulphate level. J Plant Physiol 143:8–14CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Zhang H, Lian C, Shen Z (2009) Proteomic identification of small, copper responsive proteins in germinating embryos of Oryza sativa. Ann Bot 103:923–930CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  64. Zhou W, Qiu B (2005) Effects of cadmium hyperaccumulation on physiological characteristics of Sedum alfredii Hance (Crassulaceae). Plant Sci 169:737–745CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Reshu Bhardwaj
    • 1
  • Shiv Poojan Yadav
    • 1
  • Rajesh Kumar Singh
    • 1
  • V. K. Tripathi
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of AgronomyInstitute of Agricultural Sciences, Banaras Hindu UniversityVaranasiIndia
  2. 2.Department of Farm EngineeringInstitute of Agricultural Sciences, Banaras Hindu UniversityVaranasiIndia

Personalised recommendations