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Pharmaceutical and personal care products-induced stress symptoms and detoxification mechanisms in cucumber plants

Sun, Chengliang, Dudley, Stacia, Trumble, John, Gan, Jay
Environmental pollution 2018 v.234 pp. 39-47
agricultural soils, animal wastes, ascorbate peroxidase, biosolids, crops, cucumbers, dose response, glutathione, glutathione transferase, leaves, lipid peroxidation, oxidative stress, peroxidase, personal care products, photosynthesis, phytotoxicity, pigments, reactive oxygen species, risk, roots, seedlings, superoxide dismutase, wastewater, xenobiotics
Contamination of agricultural soils by pharmaceutical and personal care products (PPCPs) resulting from the application of treated wastewater, biosolids and animal wastes constitutes a potential environmental risk in many countries. To date a handful of studies have considered the phytotoxicity of individual PPCPs in crop plants, however, little is known about the effect of PPCPs as mixtures at environmentally relevant levels. This study investigated the uptake and transport, physiological responses and detoxification of a mixture of 17 PPCPs in cucumber seedlings. All PPCPs were detected at higher concentrations in roots compared to leaves, with root activity inhibited in a dose-dependent manner. At 5–50 μg/L, the mature leaves exhibited burnt edges as well as a reduction in photosynthesis pigments. Reactive oxygen species (ROS) production and lipid peroxidation increased with increasing PPCP concentrations; and their contents were greater in roots than in leaves for all PPCP treatments. Enzymes involved in various functions, including oxidative stress (superoxide dismutase and ascorbate peroxidase) and xenobiotic metabolism (peroxidase and glutathione S-transferase), were elevated to different levels depending on the PPCP concentration. Glutathione content gradually increased in leaves, while a maxima occurred at 0.5 μg L⁻¹ PPCPs in roots, followed by a decrease thereafter. This study illustrated the complexity of phytotoxicity after exposure to PPCP mixtures, and provided insights into the molecular mechanisms likely responsible for the detoxification of PPCPs in higher plants.