Insights into Cadmium Toxicity Reactive Oxygen and Nitrogen Species Function

María C. Romero-Puertas, Ana P. Ortega-Galisteo, María Rodríguez-Serrano, and Luisa M. Sandalio

Abstract Cadmium (Cd) is a heavy metal that enters the environment mainly due to phosphate fertilizers and processes derived from industry and mining. This metal is a toxic element and the main problem of its accumulation is the rapid transference into the food chain through plants that take up the metal by their roots from where it can be loaded into the xylem for its transport into the leaves and fruits. Cd inhibits plant growth producing alterations in the photosynthesis rate, water use efficiency and the uptake and distribution of micro- and macro-nutrients. Additionally, Cd disturbs the plant antioxidant system and induces the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) leading to an oxidative stress. Because Cd does not participate in Fenton-type reactions, the mechanisms by which Cd induces ROS production are not well understood. Recently, nitric oxide (NO), a well-known messenger in plants, has been involved in the plant Cd response although its function and sources are still largely unknown. In this chapter, we will discuss the effect of Cd on plants, the responses of the plant to the metal showing the proteomic and transcriptomic analysis that have been done in recent years and the role of ROS and NO in this response.

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