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Independent variation in copper tolerance and copper accumulation among crop species and varieties

Nicola Novello, Claudio Ferfuia, Igor Pasković, Andrea Fabris, Mario Baldini, Henk Schat, Filip Pošćić
Plant physiology and biochemistry 2020 v.156 pp. 538-551
Brassica carinata, Cynara cardunculus, Helianthus annuus, Nicotiana tabacum, Raphanus sativus, crops, discriminant analysis, manganese, nutrient solutions, root growth, zinc
Copper (Cu) locally contaminates soils and might negatively affect growth and yield of crops. A better understanding of plant copper tolerance and accumulation is needed in order to breed more Cu-tolerant or Cu-efficient crops. Cu tolerance was evaluated in different varieties of seven species (Brassica carinata, B. juncea, B. napus, Cynara cardunculus, Helianthus annuus, Nicotiana tabacum and Raphanus sativus) exposed to a series of CuSO₄ concentrations (0.1–8 μM CuSO₄) in the nutrient solution. Plants were further exposed to 0.1 μM CuSO₄ and to their variety-specific concentrations that reduced root growth to 50% of the maximum rate (EC₅₀). Among all the varieties of all the species the EC₅₀ varied from 0.7 up to 3.1 μM Cu. B. carinata was significantly more Cu-sensitive than the other species, which were not significantly different among each other, and B. carinata and H. annuus accommodated significant intra-specific, inter-varietal variation. There were significant differences between species in Cu uptake efficiency and nutrient status. When under EC₅₀ exposure, all the Brassicaceae, except B. carinata, maintained low Cu concentrations in shoots, whereas the other species and B. carinata exhibited significantly increased shoot Cu concentrations, compared to the control. There was no apparent relationship between Cu tolerance and Cu accumulation in roots and shoots, suggesting that the observed variation in tolerance, both between and within species, is not explained by differential exclusion capacity. Discriminant analysis and treatment comparisons suggest possible contribution of lignin, saturated fatty acids, manganese (Mn) and zinc (Zn) in tolerance to high Cu concentrations in shoot.