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Growth under elevated air temperature alters secondary metabolites in Robinia pseudoacacia L. seedlings in Cd- and Pb-contaminated soils

Zhao, Y.H., Jia, X., Wang, W.K., Liu, T., Huang, S.P., Yang, M.Y.
The Science of the total environment 2016 v.565 pp. 586-594
Robinia pseudoacacia, air temperature, alkaloids, antioxidant activity, bioavailability, cadmium, climate change, defense mechanisms, ecosystems, flavonoids, heavy metals, lead, leaves, pH, plant tissues, proanthocyanidins, rhizosphere, saponins, secondary metabolites, seedlings, soil, soil pollution, stems
Plant secondary metabolites play a pivotal role in growth regulation, antioxidant activity, pigment development, and other processes. As the global climate changes, increasing atmospheric temperatures and contamination of soil by heavy metals co-occur in natural ecosystems, which alters the pH of rhizosphere soil and influences the bioavailability and mobility of metals. Elevated temperatures in combination with heavy metals are expected to affect plant secondary metabolites, but this issue has not been extensively examined. Here, we investigated secondary metabolites in Robiniapseudoacacia seedlings exposed to elevated temperatures using a passive warming device in combination with Cd- and Pb-contaminated soils. Heavy metals significantly stimulated the accumulation of saponins, phenolic compounds, and flavonoids in leaves and stems; alkaloid compounds increased in leaves and decreased in stems, and condensed tannins fluctuated. Elevated temperatures, alone and in combination with Cd and Pb, caused increases in secondary metabolites in the plant tissues. Phenolic compounds showed the greatest changes among the secondary metabolites and significant interactive effects of temperature and metals were observed. These results suggest that slightly elevated temperature could enhance protective and defense mechanisms of Robinia pseudoacacia seedlings exposed to heavy metals by stimulating the production of secondary metabolites.