Cadmium hyperaccumulation leads to an increase of glutathione rather than phytochelatins in the cadmium hyperaccumulator Sedum alfredii

Qin Sun, Zhi Hong Ye, Xiao Rong Wang, Ming Hung WONG*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

154 Citations (Scopus)


Sedum alfredii has been reported to be a cadmium (Cd) hyperaccumulator. Phytochelatins (PCs) and other thiol (SH)-containing compounds have been proposed to play an important role in the detoxification and tolerance of some heavy metals, but it is not clear whether PCs are responsible for Cd hyperaccumulation and tolerance in S. alfredii. In this study, two geographically isolated populations of S. alfredii were studied: one population grew on an old Pb/Zn mine site, while the other on a non-mine site. The mine population of this species exhibited a stronger heavy metal tolerance than in the other population. Root-to-shoot transport of Cd was higher in population located at the mine site than at the non-mine site. Considerable amounts of Cd were accumulated in leaves and stems of mine plants, while most Cd was distributed in roots of non-mine plants. Non-protein SH in plant tissues of two populations were further investigated by a HPLC pre-column derivatization system. Upon exposure to Cd, no PCs were detected in all tissues of mine population, while an appreciable amount of glutathione (GSH) was observed in the descending order of stem>root>leaf. The concentrations of GSH consistently increased with the increase of exogenous Cd concentrations and time. On the contrary, Cd exposure strongly induced the production of PCs (mainly PC2 and PC3) and GSH in plant tissues of non-mine population, and the concentrations of GSH showed an initial drop over the duration of 7-d exposure. The present results provided strong evidence that PCs are not involved in Cd transport, hyperaccumulation and tolerance in mine population of S. alfredii.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1489-1498
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Plant Physiology
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 9 Nov 2007

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Physiology
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Plant Science

User-Defined Keywords

  • Cadmium hyperaccumulator
  • Glutathione
  • Heavy metal tolerance
  • Phytochelatins
  • Sedum alfredii


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