Chemical and biological analyses were used to investigate the growth response and antioxidant defense mechanism of maize seedlings (Zea mays L.) grown in soils with 0-100 mg kg(-1) Cd. Results showed that maize seedlings have strong abilities to accumulate and tolerate high concentrations of Cd. For soil with 50 mg kg(-1) Cd, the Cd contents in roots and shoots of maize seedlings are as large as 295.6 and 153.0 mg kg(-1) DW, respectively, without visible symptoms of toxicity. Lower soil Cd concentrations lead to a decrease in reduced glutathione (GSH) content in leaves of maize seedlings, whereas higher soil Cd concentrations resulted in an increase in the activities of superoxide dismutase, guaiacol peroxidase, catalase, and ascorbate peroxidase. Maize seedlings have strong capacities to adapt to low concentrations of Cd by consuming GSH and to develop an antioxidative enzyme system to defend against high-Cd stress.
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