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Huiying Li, Hongji Luo, Deying Li, Tao Hu, and Jinmin Fu

Lead pollution is an important issue in the world. Perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne), as one of the widely used turfgrass and forage species, has a potential for bioremediation. The objective of this study was to investigate how antioxidant enzymes and their gene transcripts respond to Pb stress in perennial ryegrass. Ryegrass seedlings were subjected to 0, 0.5, and 3.2 mm of Pb(NO3)2 for 7 days in a hydroponic system maintained in a greenhouse. Both root and shoot growths were inhibited by Pb compared with the control. However, contents of chlorophyll (Chl) a and total Chl were unaffected by Pb treatment. Results from this study showed a substantial increase of malondialdehyde (MDA) content in leaf tissues when perennial ryegrass was exposed to Pb at 3.2 mm. The MDA content from plants in the 0.5 mm Pb treatment was lower than the control, indicating that an effective defense mechanism existed. Circumstantial evidence came also from the content of soluble protein in 0.5 mm Pb treatment, which was not different from the control. Furthermore, the activity of catalase (CAT) increased at 0.5 mm Pb compared with the control, indicating that CAT might play an important role in scavenging reactive oxygen species (ROS). The expression profiles of eight genes encoding antioxidative enzymes were upregulated within 24 hours of Pb treatment. In conclusion, antioxidant enzymes responded to Pb at an early stage of exposure and their gene expression profiles provided more details in time courses of the activation of those systems.