Characterization of mercury-induced stress biomarkers in Fagopyrum tataricum plants

The effect of mercury stress on antioxidant enzymes, lipid peroxidation, photosynthetic pigments, hydrogen peroxide content, osmolytes and growth parameters in tartary buckwheat were investigated. The effect of Hg-exposure was found to be time (15 and 30 days) and concentration (0, 25, 50 and 75 μM) dependent. Hg was readily absorbed by seedlings with higher content in roots and it resulted in reduction of root and shoot length. The root and shoot Hg uptakes were significantly and directly correlated with each other. However, the fresh mass and biomass increased upto 50 μM Hg-treatment at both time periods. A significant positive correlation was observed between biomass accumulation with relative water content. Hg levels were positively correlated with the production of hydrogen peroxide in leaves as evidenced by 3, 3-diaminobenzidine (DAB)-mediated tissue fingerprinting. The osmolyte levels in general were elevated except for proline and protein which showed a decline at 75 μM Hg-treatment at 30-days. Amongst the photosynthetic pigments, chlorophyll showed a decline while as carotenoid and anthocyanin levels were elevated. The activity of antioxidant enzymes such as ascorbate peroxidase (APX), guaiacol peroxidase (POD), glutathione reductase (GR), Glutathione-s-transferase (GST) and superoxide dismutase (SOD) were positively correlated with Hg-treatment except SOD, which declined at 75 μM Hg-treatment in 30-days old seedlings. Catalase (CAT) activity showed a positive correlation upto 50 μM Hg-treatment but at 75 μM Hg-stress it decreases at both 15 and 30-days.