Environmental science and pollution research international

Morphology, ultrastructure and mineral uptake is affected by copper toxicity in young plants of Inga subnuda subs. luschnathiana (Benth.) T.D. Penn.

PMID 26006069


Toxic effects of copper (Cu) were analyzed in young plants of Inga subnuda subs. luschnathiana, a species that is highly tolerant to flooding and found in Brazil in wetlands contaminated with Cu. Plants were cultivated in fully nutritive solution, containing different concentrations of Cu (from 0.08 μmol to 0.47 mmol L(-1)). Symptoms of Cu toxicity were observed in both leaves and roots of plants cultivated from 0.16 mmol Cu L(-1). In the leaves, Cu clearly induced alterations in the thickness of the epidermis, mesophyll, palisade parenchyma, and intercellular space of the lacunose parenchyma. Also, this metal induced disorganization in thylakoid membranes, internal and external membrane rupture in chloroplasts, mitochondrial alterations, and electrodense material deposition in vacuoles of the parenchyma and cell walls. The starch grains disappeared; however, an increase of plastoglobule numbers was observed according to Cu toxicity. In the roots, destruction of the epidermis, reduction of the intercellular space, and modifications in the format of initial cells of the external cortex were evident. Cell walls and endoderm had been broken, invaginations of tonoplast and vacuole retractions were found, and, again, electrodense material was observed in these sites. Mineral nutrient analysis revealed higher Cu accumulation in the roots and greater macro- and micronutrients accumulation into shoots. Thus, root morphological and ultrastructural changes induced differential nutrients uptake and their translocations from root toward shoots, and this was related to membrane and endoderm ruptures caused by Cu toxicity.