Cadmium and zinc activate adaptive mechanisms in Nicotiana tabacum similar to those observed in metal tolerant plants

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Vera-Estrella, R, Gómez-Méndez, MR, Amezcua-Romero, JC, Barkla, BJ, Rosas-Santiago, P & Pantoja, O 2017, 'Cadmium and zinc activate adaptive mechanisms in Nicotiana tabacum similar to those observed in metal tolerant plants', Planta.

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MAIN CONCLUSION: Tobacco germinated and grew in the presence of high concentrations of cadmium and zinc without toxic symptoms. Evidence suggests that these ions are sequestered into the vacuole by heavy metal/H (+) exchanger mechanisms. Heavy metal hyperaccumulation and hypertolerance are traits shared by a small set of plants which show specialized physiological and molecular adaptations allowing them to accumulate and sequester toxic metal ions. Nicotiana tabacum was used to test its potential as a metal-accumulator in a glass house experiment. Seed germination was not affected in the presence of increasing concentrations of zinc and cadmium. Juvenile and adult plants could concentrate CdCl2 and ZnSO4 to levels exceeding those in the hydroponic growth medium and maintained or increased their leaf dry weight when treated with 0.5- or 1-mM CdCl2 or 1-mM ZnSO4 for 5 days. Accumulation of heavy metals did not affect the chlorophyll and carotenoid levels, while variable effects were observed in cell sap osmolarity. Heavy metal-dependent H(+) transport across the vacuole membrane was monitored using quinacrine fluorescence quenching. Cadmium- or zinc-dependent fluorescence recovery revealed that increasing concentrations of heavy metals stimulated the activities of the tonoplast Cd(2+) or Zn(2+)/H(+) exchangers. Immunodetection of the V-ATPase subunits showed that the increased proton transport by zinc was not due to changes in protein amount. MTP1 and MTP4 immunodetection and semiquantitative RT-PCR of NtMTP1, NtNRAMP1, and NtZIP1 helped to identify the genes that are likely involved in sequestration of cadmium and zinc in the leaf and root tissue. Finally, we demonstrated that cadmium and zinc treatments induced an accumulation of zinc in leaf tissues. This study shows that N. tabacum possesses a hyperaccumulation response, and thus could be used for phytoremediation purposes.