Physiological and molecular responses to heavy metal stresses suggest different detoxification mechanism of Populus deltoides and P. x canadensis

Dániel Benyó, E. Horváth, Edit Németh, Tünde Leviczky, Kinga Takács, Nóra Lehotai, Gábor Feigl, Zsuzsanna Kolbert, Attila Ördög, Róbert Gallé, J. Csiszár, L. Szabados, L. Erdei, Ágnes Gallé

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

13 Citations (Scopus)


Plants have divergent defense mechanisms against the harmful effects of heavy metals present in excess in soils and groundwaters. Poplars (Populus spp.) are widely cultivated because of their rapid growth and high biomass production, and members of the genus are increasingly used as experimental model organisms of trees and for phytoremediation purposes. Our aim was to investigate the copper and zinc stress responses of three outstanding biomass producer bred poplar lines to identify such transcripts of genes involved in the detoxification mechanisms, which can play an important role in the protection against heavy metals. Poplar cuttings were grown hydroponically and subjected to short‐term (one week) mild and sublethal copper and zinc stresses. We evaluated the effects of the applied heavy metals and the responses of plants by detecting the changes of multiple physiological and biochemical parameters. The most severe cellular oxidative damage was caused by 30 μM copper treatment, while zinc was less harmful. Analysis of stress-related transcripts revealed genotype-specific differences that are likely related to alterations in heavy metal tolerance. P. deltoides clones B-229 and PE 19/66 clones were clearly more effective at inducing the expression of various genes implicated in the detoxification process, such as the glutathione transferases, metallothioneins, ABC transporters, (namely PtGSTU51, PxMT1, PdABCC2,3), while the P. canadensis line M‐1 accumulated more metal, resulting in greater cellular oxidative damage. Our results show that all three poplar clones are efficient in stress acclimatization, but with different molecular bases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)62-70
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Plant Physiology
Publication statusPublished - Aug 20 2016



  • ABC transporter
  • Detoxification
  • Glutathione transferase
  • Metal stress
  • Metallothionein
  • Poplar

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Plant Science
  • Physiology
  • Agronomy and Crop Science

Cite this