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Special Issue "Heavy Metal Stress in Plants"

A special issue of Plants (ISSN 2223-7747). This special issue belongs to the section "Plant Response to Abiotic Stress and Climate Change".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 January 2021.

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Ewa Hanus-Fajerska

Guest Editor
Department of Botany, Physiology and Plant Protection, Faculty of Biotechnology and Horticulture, University of Agriculture in Krakow
Interests: plant responses to stress factors; phytoremediation; biotechnological methods of environmental protection; cultivation of metalophytes on industial wastes; ecotypes; multiple stress factors; plant tissue culture
Prof. Dr. Alina Wiszniewska

Guest Editor
University of Agriculture in Krakow | UR 路 Department of Botany and Plant Physiology
Interests: plant responses to abiotic stress; functioning of extremophytes under abiotic stress; mechanisms of co-tolerance to multiple stresses; plant tissue cultures; in vitro selection towards enhanced tolerance to metallic stress

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The demand for non-ferrous metals, such as lead, zinc, cadmium, silver, nickel, bismuth, cobalt, copper, chromium, tungsten, or gold, is still very high among others because of its resistance to rust and corrosion, and additionally most of them are useful in manufacturing electronic equipment, electrical power cables or metal constructions and many other industrial applications. Therefore, economically viable deposits of ore deposits containing these elements are still exploited worldwide. Ores mining, its processing and further industrial production using those elements is associated with very severe environmental pollution. Especially agroecosystems receive large ammounts of heavy metals through water or via air and hence the contamination of crops that causes cancers in humans.

Currently, due to the need for sustainable development, we should only use ecologically justified technologies of environmental remediation, including phytoremediation. However, we still need to improve the methodology of this biological process, especially when the matrix (soil or water) is contaminated with a mixture of heavy metals and in addition plants are subjected to additional stress factors such as permanent water shortage on land, salinity or temperature stress. Alternative approaches include the use of soil amendments, biotization or mycorrhization of plants to increase their tolerance and thus survival in such difficult growing conditions. Those are precisely these aspects of improving phytoremediation schemes that scientists should now focus on to urgently reduce the exposition of human populations to contaminated food, resulting in a steady increase in cancer incidence.

For this reason, in this Special Issue we invite all persons interested in (i) improving the condition of plants used in remediation, and (ii) the increase in their selection for individual habitat conditions.  As we should also be focused on the problem of (iii) plant response to multistress and (v) possible ways to mitigation of its effects, hence we cordially invite all scientists working in this field to present the results of their research. (iv) New research approaches and comprehensive analysis are of particular interest.

Research articles, reviews and viewpoints related to the topics of Special Issue are welcome. Literally all, even not fully completed, results of scientific research and any opinion on your part will be helpful for the international scientific community studying the above issues.

Prof. Dr. Ewa Hanus-Fajerska
Prof. Dr. Alina Wiszniewska
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, . Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Plants is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1600 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • heavy metals
  • phytoremediation
  • plant stress
  • stress mitigation
  • multistress
  • available plants
  • metallophytes
  • ecotypes
  • methodology

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Research

Jump to: Review

Open AccessArticle
Antioxidant Responses of Phenolic Compounds and Immobilization of Copper in Imperata cylindrica, a Plant with Potential Use for Bioremediation of Cu Contaminated Environments
by , , , , , , and
Plants 2020, 9(10), 1397; - 20 Oct 2020
Abstract
This work examined the capability of Imperata cylindrica to respond, tolerate and accumulate Cu when growing at high Cu concentration (300 mg kg−1 of substrate) at different times of exposure (2, 14 and 21 days). The Cu accumulation in plants was examined [...] Read more.
This work examined the capability of Imperata cylindrica to respond, tolerate and accumulate Cu when growing at high Cu concentration (300 mg kg−1 of substrate) at different times of exposure (2, 14 and 21 days). The Cu accumulation in plants was examined by atomic absorption spectroscopy (AAS) and Cu localized by Scanning Electron Microscopy-Energy Dispersive X-Ray spectroscopy. Additionally, the phenolic compound identifications and concentrations were determined using liquid chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry. Our results showed that root biomass decreased significantly at high Cu levels, with a greater decrease at 21 days (39.8% less biomass in comparison to control). The root showed 328 mg Cu kg−1 dry weight at 21 days of exposure to Cu, being the tissue that accumulates most of the Cu. Lipid peroxidation was a clear indicator of Cu stress, principally in shoots. The exposure to Cu significantly increased the synthesis of phenolic compounds in shoots of plants exposed 21 days to Cu, where 5-caffeoylquinic acid reached the highest concentrations. Our results support that I. cylindrica is a Cu accumulator plant in root organs with a medium level of accumulation (between 200–600 mg Cu kg−1 biomass), which can tolerate the exposure to high Cu levels by means of increasing the synthesis of phenolic compound in shoots, suggesting a potential use as phytoremediation tool in Cu polluted environments. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Heavy Metal Stress in Plants)
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Open AccessArticle
Effect of Cadmium-Tolerant Rhizobacteria on Growth Attributes and Chlorophyll Contents of Bitter Gourd under Cadmium Toxicity
by , , , , , , , , and
Plants 2020, 9(10), 1386; - 17 Oct 2020
Abstract
Cadmium (Cd) is one of the heavy metals that negatively affects the growth of plants. High solubilization in water leads Cd to enter into plants quite easily, thus decreasing seed germination, photosynthesis, and transpiration. It also shows an antagonistic effect with many of [...] Read more.
Cadmium (Cd) is one of the heavy metals that negatively affects the growth of plants. High solubilization in water leads Cd to enter into plants quite easily, thus decreasing seed germination, photosynthesis, and transpiration. It also shows an antagonistic effect with many of the plants’ nutrients like Mn, Ca, K, Mg and Fe. Nowadays, inoculation of plants with ACC deaminase (ACCD) rhizobacteria to mitigate Cd’s adverse effects has drawn the attention of environmental microbiologists. The rhizobacteria secrete organic compounds that can immobilize Cd in soil. Therefore, this study was accomplished to investigate the effect of ACCD plant growth promoting rhizobacteria (PGPR) on the bitter gourd under Cd stress. There were six treatments consisting of two ACCD PGPR (Stenotrophomonas maltophilia and Agrobacterium fabrum) strains and inorganic fertilizers at two levels of Cd, i.e., 2 (Cd2) and 5 mg kg−1 soil (Cd5). The results showed A. fabrum with the recommended NPK fertilizer (RNPKF) significantly increased the vine length (48 and 55%), fresh weight (24 and 22%), and contents of chlorophyll a (79 and 50%), chlorophyll b (30 and 33%) and total chlorophyll (61 and 36%), over control at the two Cd levels i.e., Cd2 and Cd5, respectively. In conclusion, the recommended NPK fertilizer + A. fabrum combination is a very effective treatment with which to immobilize Cd in soil for the improvement of bitter gourd growth. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Heavy Metal Stress in Plants)
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Open AccessArticle
Zinc-lysine Supplementation Mitigates Oxidative Stress in Rapeseed (Brassica napus L.) by Preventing Phytotoxicity of Chromium, When Irrigated with Tannery Wastewater
by , , , , , , , , and
Plants 2020, 9(9), 1145; - 04 Sep 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Contamination of soil and water with metals and metalloids is one of the most serious problems worldwide due to a lack of a healthy diet and food scarcity. Moreover, the cultivation of oilseed crops such as rapeseed (Brassica napus L.) with tannery [...] Read more.
Contamination of soil and water with metals and metalloids is one of the most serious problems worldwide due to a lack of a healthy diet and food scarcity. Moreover, the cultivation of oilseed crops such as rapeseed (Brassica napus L.) with tannery wastewater could contain a large amount of toxic heavy metals [e.g., chromium (Cr)], which ultimately reduce its yield and directly influence oilseed quality. To overcome Cr toxicity in B. napus, a pot experiment was conducted to enhance plant growth and biomass by using newly introduced role of micronutrient-amino chelates [Zinc-lysine (Zn-lys)], which was irrigated with different levels [0% (control), 33%, 66%, and 100%] of tannery wastewater. According to the results of present findings, very high content of Cr in the wastewater directly affected plant growth and composition as well as gas exchange parameters, while boosting up the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and induced oxidative damage in the roots and leaves of B. napus. However, activities of antioxidants initially increased (33% of wastewater), but further addition of tannery wastewater in the soil caused a decrease in antioxidant enzymes, which also manifested by Zn content, while the conscious addition of wastewater significantly increased Cr content in the roots and shoots of B. napus. To reduce Cr toxicity in B. napus plants, exogenous supplementation of Zn-lys (10 mg/L) plays an effective role in increasing morpho-physiological attributes of B. napus and also reduces the oxidative stress in the roots and leaves of the oilseed crop (B. napus). Enhancement in different growth attributes was directly linked with increased in antioxidative enzymes while decreased uptake and accumulation of Cr content in B. napus when cultivated in wastewater with the application of Zn-lys. Zn-lys, therefore, plays a protective role in reducing the Cr toxicity of B. napus through an increase in plant growth and lowering of Cr uptake in various plant organs. However, further studies at field levels are required to explore the mechanisms of Zn–lys mediated reduction of Cr and possibly other heavy metal toxicity in plants. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Heavy Metal Stress in Plants)
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Open AccessArticle
A Genome-Wide Survey of MATE Transporters in Brassicaceae and Unveiling Their Expression Profiles under Abiotic Stress in Rapeseed
by , , , , , , , , and
Plants 2020, 9(9), 1072; - 20 Aug 2020
Abstract
The multidrug and toxic compound extrusion (MATE) protein family is important in the export of toxins and other substrates, but detailed information on this family in the Brassicaceae has not yet been reported compared to Arabidopsis thaliana. In this study, we identified [...] Read more.
The multidrug and toxic compound extrusion (MATE) protein family is important in the export of toxins and other substrates, but detailed information on this family in the Brassicaceae has not yet been reported compared to Arabidopsis thaliana. In this study, we identified 57, 124, 81, 85, 130, and 79 MATE genes in A. thaliana, Brassica napus, Brassica oleracea, Brassica rapa, Brassica juncea, and Brassica nigra, respectively, which were unevenly distributed on chromosomes owing to both tandem and segmental duplication events. Phylogenetic analysis showed that these genes could be classified into four subgroups, shared high similarity and conservation within each group, and have evolved mainly through purifying selection. Furthermore, numerous B. napusMATE genes showed differential expression between tissues and developmental stages and between plants treated with heavy metals or hormones and untreated control plants. This differential expression was especially pronounced for the Group 2 and 3 BnaMATE genes, indicating that they may play important roles in stress tolerance and hormone induction. Our results provide a valuable foundation for the functional dissection of the different BnaMATE homologs in B. napus and its parental lines, as well as for the breeding of more stress-tolerant B. napus genotypes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Heavy Metal Stress in Plants)
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Open AccessArticle
Monitoring the Efficiency of Rhazya stricta L. Plants in Phytoremediation of Heavy Metal-Contaminated Soil
by and
Plants 2020, 9(9), 1057; - 19 Aug 2020
Abstract
Heavy metal-contaminated soil constitutes many environmental concerns. The toxic nature of heavy metals poses serious threats to human health and the ecosystem. Decontamination of the polluted soil by phytoremediation is of fundamental importance. Vegetation is an appealing and cost-effective green technology for the [...] Read more.
Heavy metal-contaminated soil constitutes many environmental concerns. The toxic nature of heavy metals poses serious threats to human health and the ecosystem. Decontamination of the polluted soil by phytoremediation is of fundamental importance. Vegetation is an appealing and cost-effective green technology for the large-scale phytoremediation of polluted soils. In this paper, a greenhouse experiment was carried out to test the potential of Rhazya stricta as a heavy metal phytoremediator in polluted soil. Plants were grown for three months in pots filled with soils treated with the heavy metals Cd, Pb, Cu, and Zn at rates of 10, 50, and 100 mg/kg. The bioaccumulation factor (BCF) and translocation factor (TF) were calculated to detect the ability of R. stricta to accumulate and transfer heavy metals from soil to plant organs. The results showed that under increasing levels of soil pollution, the bioconcentration of Cd and Zn heavy metals showed the highest values in plant roots followed by leaves, whereas in the case of Pb and Cu, roots showed the highest values followed by stems. Heavy metals accumulation was higher in roots than in stems and leaves. The BCF of Zn reached the highest values in roots and stems for 10 mg/kg soil treatment, followed by the BCFs of Cd, Cu, and Pb. The TF for the different heavy metal pollutants’ concentrations was less than unity, suggesting that the plants remediate pollutants by phytostabilization. The TF values ranged from higher to lower were in the order Zn > Cu > Cd > Pb. The rapid growth of R. stricta and its tolerance of heavy metals, as well as its ability to absorb and accumulate metals within the plant, recommends its use in the phytoremediation of slightly polluted soils in arid lands by limiting the heavy metals transport. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Heavy Metal Stress in Plants)
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Open AccessArticle
Bacillus siamensis Reduces Cadmium Accumulation and Improves Growth and Antioxidant Defense System in Two Wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) Varieties
by , , , , , , , and
Plants 2020, 9(7), 878; - 11 Jul 2020
Abstract
Bioavailability of cadmium (Cd) metal in the soils due to the scarcity of good quality water and industrial waste could be the major limiting factor for the growth and yield of crops. Therefore, there is a need for a prompt solution to the [...] Read more.
Bioavailability of cadmium (Cd) metal in the soils due to the scarcity of good quality water and industrial waste could be the major limiting factor for the growth and yield of crops. Therefore, there is a need for a prompt solution to the Cd toxicity, to fulfill increasing food demand resulting from growing world population. Today, a variable range of plant growth promoting rhizobacteria (PGPR) is being used at a large scale in agriculture, to reduce the risk of abiotic stresses on plants and increase crop productivity. The objective of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of Bacillus siamensis in relieving the Cd induced damage in two wheat varieties (i.e., NARC-2009 and NARC-2011) grown in Cd spiked soil at different concentrations (0, 20, 30, 50 mg/kg). The plants under Cd stress accumulated more Cd in the roots and shoots, resulting in severe oxidative stress, evident by an increase in malondialdehyde (MDA) content. Moreover, a decrease in cell osmotic status, and alteration in antioxidant enzymes such as superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT), and ascorbate peroxidase (APX) were also observed in wheat plants under Cd stress. As a result, the Cd exposed plants showed a reduction in growth, tissue biomass, photosynthetic pigments, membrane stability, total soluble sugars, and amino acids, in comparison to control plants. The extent of damage was observed to be higher with an increase in Cd concentration. However, the inoculation of wheat with B. siamensis improved plant growth, reduced oxidative stress, and enhanced the activities of antioxidant enzymes in both wheat varieties. B. siamensis amendment brought a considerable improvement in every parameter determined with respect to Cd stress. The response of both wheat varieties on exposure to B. siamensis was positively enhanced, whereas NARC-2009 accumulated less Cd compared to NARC-2011, which indicated a higher tolerance to Cd stress mediated by B. siamensis inoculation. Overall, the B. siamensis reduced the Cd toxicity in wheat plants through the augmentation of the antioxidant defense system and sugars production. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Heavy Metal Stress in Plants)
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Open AccessArticle
Nitric Oxide Pre-Treatment Advances Seed Germination and Alleviates Copper-Induced Photosynthetic Inhibition in Indian Mustard
by , , , and
Plants 2020, 9(6), 776; - 20 Jun 2020
Abstract
This investigation tested the efficiency of nitric oxide (NO) in alleviation of Cu-induced adverse impacts on seed germination and photosynthesis in Indian mustard (Brassica juncea L.). Pre-treatment of B. juncea seeds with sodium nitroprusside (SNP; NO donor) significantly improved the seed germination [...] Read more.
This investigation tested the efficiency of nitric oxide (NO) in alleviation of Cu-induced adverse impacts on seed germination and photosynthesis in Indian mustard (Brassica juncea L.). Pre-treatment of B. juncea seeds with sodium nitroprusside (SNP; NO donor) significantly improved the seed germination rate and also alleviated Cu-accrued oxidative stress. However, in the absence of NO, Cu caused a higher reduction in seed germination rate. The presence of NO strengthened the antioxidant defense system (glutathione reductase, ascorbate peroxidase, and superoxide dismutase) and thereby sustained the lower lipid peroxidation, reduced H2O2 content, and thiobarbituric acid reactive substances in Cu-exposed seeds. NO pre-treated seeds also retained a higher amylase activity and exhibited an improved seed germination rate. This effect of NO under Cu stress was also seen in plants originated from the NO pre-treated seeds, where the role of NO pre-treatment was reflected in the improved photosynthetic potential of B. juncea. Overall, NO pre-treatment not only improved the germination rate in seeds but also carried its effects in the grown seedlings evidenced as improved photosynthesis and growth. Potential mechanisms involved in the action of NO pre-treatment included NO-mediated significant strengthening of the antioxidant defense system and decreases in Cu-caused oxidative stress parameters. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Heavy Metal Stress in Plants)
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Open AccessArticle
Ethylenediaminetetraacetic Acid (EDTA) Mitigates the Toxic Effect of Excessive Copper Concentrations on Growth, Gaseous Exchange and Chloroplast Ultrastructure of Corchorus capsularis L. and Improves Copper Accumulation Capabilities
by , , , , , , , , , , and
Plants 2020, 9(6), 756; - 16 Jun 2020
Cited by 6
Abstract
Copper (Cu) is an important micronutrient for a plant’s normal growth and development. However, excess amount of Cu in the soil causes many severe problems in plants—which ultimately affect crop productivity and yield. Moreover, excess of Cu contents causes oxidative damage in the [...] Read more.
Copper (Cu) is an important micronutrient for a plant’s normal growth and development. However, excess amount of Cu in the soil causes many severe problems in plants—which ultimately affect crop productivity and yield. Moreover, excess of Cu contents causes oxidative damage in the plant tissues by generating excess of reactive oxygen species (ROS). The present experiment was designed to investigate the phytoextraction potential of Cu, morpho-physiological features and biochemical reaction of jute (Corchorus capsularis L.) seedlings using ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) of 3 mM under different Cu levels (0 (control), 50 and 100 μM) in a hydroponic nutrient solution (Hoagland). Our results showed that elevated Cu rates (50 and 100 μM) in the nutrient solution significantly reduced plant height, fresh and dry biomass, total chlorophyll content and gaseous exchange attributes in C. capsularis seedlings. As the concentration of Cu in the medium increased (50 and 100 μM), the level of malondialdehyde (MDA) and oxidative stress in C. capsularis seedlings also increased, which could have been controlled by antioxidant activity in particular plant cells. In addition, rising Cu concentration in the nutrient solution also increased Cu uptake and accumulation in roots and leaves as well as affected the ultrastructure of chloroplast of C. capsularis seedlings. The addition of EDTA to the nutrient solution significantly alleviated Cu toxicity in C. capsularis seedlings, showing a significantly increase in plant growth and biomass. MDA contents was not significantly increased in EDTA-induced plants, suggesting that this treatment was helpful in capturing ROS and thereby reducing ROS in in C. capsularis seedlings. EDTA modification with Cu, although the bioaccumulation factor in roots and leaves and translocation factor for the leaves of C. capsularis seedlings has significantly increased. These results indicate that C. capsularis has considerable potential to cope with Cu stress and is capable of removing a large quantity of Cu from the Cu-contaminated soil while using EDTA is a useful strategy to increase plant growth and biomass with Cu absorption capabilities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Heavy Metal Stress in Plants)
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Open AccessArticle
Structural Adaptation and Physiological Mechanisms in the Leaves of Anthyllis vulneraria L. from Metallicolous and Non-Metallicolous Populations
by , and
Plants 2020, 9(5), 662; - 23 May 2020
Abstract
Calamine wastes highly contaminated with trace metals (TMs) are spontaneously inhabited by a legume plant Anthyllis vulneraria L. This study determined an adaptation strategy of metallicolous (M) A. vulneraria and compared it with that of the non-metallicolous (NM) ecotype. We hypothesized that TMs [...] Read more.
Calamine wastes highly contaminated with trace metals (TMs) are spontaneously inhabited by a legume plant Anthyllis vulneraria L. This study determined an adaptation strategy of metallicolous (M) A. vulneraria and compared it with that of the non-metallicolous (NM) ecotype. We hypothesized that TMs may lead to (i) leaf apoplast modifications and (ii) changes in the antioxidant machinery efficiency that facilitate plant growth under severe contamination. To verify our hypothesis, we implemented immunolabelling, transmission electron microscopy and biochemical measurements. NM leaves were larger and thicker compared to the M ecotype. Microscopic analysis of M leaves showed a lack of dysfunctions in mesophyll cells exposed to TMs. However, changes in apoplast composition and thickening of the mesophyll and epidermal cell walls in these plants were observed. Thick walls were abundant in xyloglucan, pectins, arabinan, arabinogalactan protein and extensin. The tested ecotypes differed also in their physiological responses. The metallicolous ecotype featured greater accumulation of photosynthetic pigments, enhanced activity of superoxide dismutase and increased content of specific phenol groups in comparison with the NM one. Despite this, radical scavenging activity at the level of 20% was similar in M and NM ecotypes, which may implicate effective reduction of oxidative stress in M plants. In summary, our results confirmed hypotheses and suggest that TMs induced cell wall modifications of leaves, which may play a role in metal stress avoidance in Anthyllis species. However, when TMs reach the protoplast, activation of antioxidant machinery may significantly strengthen the status of plants naturally growing in TM-polluted environment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Heavy Metal Stress in Plants)
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Review

Jump to: Research

Open AccessReview
Glycine Betaine Accumulation, Significance and Interests for Heavy Metal Tolerance in Plants
by , , , , , , , and
Plants 2020, 9(7), 896; - 15 Jul 2020
Abstract
Unexpected biomagnifications and bioaccumulation of heavy metals (HMs) in the surrounding environment has become a predicament for all living organisms together with plants. Excessive release of HMs from industrial discharge and other anthropogenic activities has threatened sustainable agricultural practices and limited the overall [...] Read more.
Unexpected biomagnifications and bioaccumulation of heavy metals (HMs) in the surrounding environment has become a predicament for all living organisms together with plants. Excessive release of HMs from industrial discharge and other anthropogenic activities has threatened sustainable agricultural practices and limited the overall profitable yield of different plants species. Heavy metals at toxic levels interact with cellular molecules, leading towards the unnecessary generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS), restricting productivity and growth of the plants. The application of various osmoprotectants is a renowned approach to mitigate the harmful effects of HMs on plants. In this review, the effective role of glycine betaine (GB) in alleviation of HM stress is summarized. Glycine betaine is very important osmoregulator, and its level varies considerably among different plants. Application of GB on plants under HMs stress successfully improves growth, photosynthesis, antioxidant enzymes activities, nutrients uptake, and minimizes excessive heavy metal uptake and oxidative stress. Moreover, GB activates the adjustment of glutathione reductase (GR), ascorbic acid (AsA) and glutathione (GSH) contents in plants under HM stress. Excessive accumulation of GB through the utilization of a genetic engineering approach can successfully enhance tolerance against stress, which is considered an important feature that needs to be investigated in depth. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Heavy Metal Stress in Plants)
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