Phytoextraction is an environmentally friendly and a cost-effective strategy for remediation of heavy metal contaminated soils. However, lower bioavailability of some of the metals in polluted environments e.g. lead (Pb) is a major constraint of phytoextraction process that could be overcome by applying organic chelators. We conducted a glasshouse experiment to evaluate the role of citric acid (CA) in enhancing Pb phytoextraction. Brassica napus L. seedlings were grown in hydroponic media and exposed to various treatments of Pb (50 and 100 μM) as alone or in combination with CA (2.5mM) for six weeks. Pb-induced damage in B. napus toxicity was evident from elevated levels of malondialdehyde (MDA) and H2O2 that significantly inhibited plant growth, biomass accumulation, leaf chlorophyll contents and gas exchange parameters. Alternatively, CA application to Pb-stressed B. napus plants arrested lipid membrane damage by limiting MDA and H2O2 production and by improving antioxidant enzyme activities. In addition, CA significantly increased the Pb accumulation in B. napus plants. The study concludes that CA has a potential to improve Pb phytoextraction without damaging plant growth.
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