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Comparative impacts of iron oxide nanoparticles and ferric ions on the growth of Citrus maxima

Hu, Jing, Guo, Huiyuan, Li, Junli, Gan, Qiuliang, Wang, Yunqiang, Xing, Baoshan
Environmental pollution 2017 v.221 pp. 199-208
Citrus maxima, chlorophyll, enzyme activity, gene expression, genes, ions, iron, maghemite, nanoparticles, nutrient deficiencies, plant growth, reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction, roots, seedlings, shoots, toxicity
The impacts of iron oxide nanoparticles (γ-Fe2O3 NPs) and ferric ions (Fe³⁺) on plant growth and molecular responses associated with the transformation and transport of Fe²⁺ were poorly understood. This study comprehensively compared and evaluated the physiological and molecular changes of Citrus maxima plants as affected by different levels of γ-Fe2O3 NPs and Fe³⁺. We found that γ-Fe2O3 NPs could enter plant roots but no translocation from roots to shoots was observed. 20 mg/L γ-Fe2O3 NPs had no impact on plant growth. 50 mg/L γ-Fe2O3 NPs significantly enhanced chlorophyll content by 23.2% and root activity by 23.8% as compared with control. However, 100 mg/L γ-Fe2O3 NPs notably increased MDA formation, decreased chlorophyll content and root activity. Although Fe³⁺ ions could be used by plants and promoted the synthesis of chlorophyll, they appeared to be more toxic than γ-Fe2O3 NPs, especially for 100 mg/L Fe³⁺. The impacts caused by γ-Fe2O3 NPs and Fe³⁺ were concentration-dependent. Physiological results showed that γ-Fe2O3 NPs at proper concentrations had the potential to be an effective iron nanofertilizer for plant growth. RT-PCR analysis showed that γ-Fe2O3 NPs had no impact on AHA gene expression. 50 mg/L γ-Fe2O3 NPs and Fe³⁺ significantly increased expression levels of FRO2 gene and correspondingly had a higher ferric reductase activity compared to both control and Fe(II)-EDTA exposure, thus promoting the iron transformation and enhancing the tolerance of plants to iron deficiency. Relative levels of Nramp3 gene expression exposed to γ-Fe2O3 NPs and Fe³⁺ were significantly lower than control, indicating that all γ-Fe2O3 NPs and Fe³⁺ treatments could supply iron to C. maxima seedlings. Overall, plants can modify the speciation and transport of γ-Fe2O3 NPs or Fe³⁺ for self-protection and development by activating many physiological and molecular processes.