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Mung Hwa Yoo, Youn Jung Kwon, Ki-Cheol Son, and Stanley J. Kays

Foliage plants of Hedera helix L. (english ivy), Spathiphyllum wallisii Regal (peace lily), Syngonium podophyllum Schott. (nephthytis), and Cissus rhombifolia Vahl. (grape ivy) were evaluated for their ability to remove two indoor volatile organic air pollutants, benzene and toluene. Removal was monitored when the aerial portion of plants was exposed singly to 1 μL·L-1 or to 0.5 μL·L-1 of each gas in a closed environment over 6-hour periods during the day and the night. Selected physiological processes were assessed before and immediately after treatment to determine the effect of the gases on the plants. The effectiveness of plants in the removal of air pollutant(s) varied with species, time of day, and whether the gases were present singly or as a mixture. When exposed to a single gas, S. wallisii, S. podophyllum, and H. helix displayed higher removal efficiencies (ng·m-3·h-1·cm-2 leaf area) of either gas than C. rhombifolia during the day. The efficiency of removal changed when both gases were present; H. helix was substantially more effective in the removal of either benzene or toluene than the other species, with the removal of toluene more than double that of benzene. When exposed singly, the removal of both compounds was generally higher during the day than during the night for all species; however, when present simultaneously, H. helix removal efficiency during the night was similar to the day indicating that stomatal diffusion for english ivy was not a major factor. The results indicated an interaction between gases in uptake by the plant, the presence of different avenues for uptake, and the response of a single gas was not necessarily indicative of the response when other gases are present. Changes in the rates of photosynthesis, stomatal conductance, and transpiration before and after exposure indicated that the volatiles adversely affected the plants and the effects were not consistent across species and gases. Deleterious effects of volatile pollutants on indoor plants may be critical in their efficacy in improving indoor air quality and warrant further study.

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Theocharis Chatzistathis, Ioannis Therios, and Dimitrios Alifragis

constitute a detoxification mechanism to olive trees, protecting the above-ground part of the tree from Mn toxicity. Under Mn excess/toxicity conditions also, other plant species such as Mentha spicata , Citrus sp., Pseudoaccacia sp., Juglans regia

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Peter Nveawiah-Yoho, Jing Zhou, Marsha Palmer, Roger Sauve, Suping Zhou, Kevin J. Howe, Tara Fish, and Theodore W. Thannhauser

cochaperonins, heat-shock proteins, antioxidant enzymes, and signal transduction proteins (30%); Group 7, cellular detoxification (3%); Group 8, intracellular trafficking (3%); Group 9, protein turnover and post-translational modification (4%); and Group 10, DNA

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A.M. Shirazi and P.S. Muir

There is increasing interest in using methanol and other alcohol fuels as an alternative energy source in the United States and developing nations. However, methanol-fueled vehicles have higher direct emissions of formaldehyde (HCHO) than gasoline-fueled vehicles, which has led to concern about increases in atmospheric concentration of HCHO. Formaldehyde at concentrations of 300, 600, 900, and 1200 μM reduced germination of hydrated Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) pollen in vitro. HCHO concentrations and pH in media containing pollen decreased during the 25-h incubation, with decreases proportional to HCHO concentration. This effect was not seen with heat-killed pollen, which suggests a detoxification mechanism. Ion leakage (measured as electrical conductivity) of pollen increased within 20 h in all HCHO treatments compared to controls. Stress also was indicated by TTC staining, which also decreased after HCHO treatment compared to controls.

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Erik H. Ervin, Xunzhong Zhang, and John H. Fike

High ultraviolet-B (UV-B; 290-320nm wavelength) may significantly contribute to kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis L.) sod death at harvest and transplanting. As terrestrial UV-B levels continue to increase due to a depletion of the stratospheric ozone layer this problem may worsen. Epidermal attenuation from pigments and detoxification of reactive oxygen species by antioxidant metabolites and enzymes are involved in plant defense against oxidative stress caused by UV-B. Our objective was to determine whether the attenuation and detoxification systems of kentucky bluegrass could be artificially boosted by exogenous applications of ascorbic acid (AA), alpha-tocopherol (AT), or a colorant before exposure to high levels of UV-B. Ascorbic acid, AT, and the colorant Green Lawnger (GL), were applied to plugs of mature kentucky bluegrass alone or in combination, and then subjected to artificial, continuous UV-B exposure (70 μmol·m-2·s-1); three greenhouse experiments were conducted. By 3 to 5 days after UV-B initiation, visual quality and photochemical efficiency, as measured by chlorophyll fluorescence were significantly reduced. However, in Expt. 1, AA alleviated decline of visual quality, delayed loss of photochemical efficiency, and increased recovery relative to the control. In Expt. 3, decreased endogenous AT and antioxidant enzyme activities were measured due to UV-B stress. Application of AA, AA + AT, or GL partially alleviated photochemical efficiency decline from 4 to 12 days after initiation of UV-B. In addition, application of the chemical treatments increased leaf tissue AT concentrations by 32% to 42%, increased SOD activity by 30% to 33% and increased catalase activity by 37% to 59%, relative to the control as measured 10 days after UV-B initiation. Greater AT concentration and SOD and catalase activities were associated with greater visual quality under UV-B stress. The results of these studies indicate that kentucky bluegrass UV-B tolerance may be increased by supplementing its pigment and antioxidant defense systems with foliar applications of AA, AT or GL.

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Ksenija Gasic and Schuyler S. Korban

Phytochelatins (PCs) are heavy metal binding peptides that play important roles in sequestration and detoxification of heavy metals in plants. To develop transgenic plants with increased tolerance and/or accumulation of heavy metals from soil, an Arabidopsis thaliana FLAG–tagged AtPCS1 cDNA encoding phytochelatin synthase (PCS) under the control of a 35S promoter was expressed in Indian mustard (Brassica juncea). Four transgenic Indian mustard lines, designated pc lines, with different levels of AtPCS1 mRNA accumulation and correspondent AtPCS1 protein levels were selected and analyzed for tolerance to cadmium (Cd) and zinc (Zn). Heavy metal tolerance was assessed by measuring root length of 10-day-old seedlings grown on agar medium supplemented with different concentrations of Cd (0, 100, 150, and 200 μm CdCl2) and Zn (200, 400, 600, and 800 μm ZnCl2). All transgenic lines showed significantly longer roots when grown on a medium supplemented with 100 μm CdCl2. No significant differences were observed between transgenic lines and wild type when plants were grown on higher levels of Cd. This indicated that only partial tolerance to Cd was observed in these transgenic lines. Similarly, partial tolerance for Zn was also observed in these transgenic lines, but up to levels of 400 μm ZnCl2. Expression levels of AtPCS1 protein were not related to tolerance responses for either Cd or Zn stresses in transgenic lines.

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John A. Juvik

Extensive epidemiological evidence suggests that carotenoids (including vitamin A), ascorbate (vitamin C), tocols (including vitamin E), and glucosinolate breakdown products exert anticarcinogenic effects in a range of human tissues. Consumption of fresh and processed vegetables with enhanced levels of these phytochemicals could reduce human risk of cancer. The vitamins play a major role as antioxidants, offering protection against cancer by preventing or reversing oxidative damage to DNA and other cellular components. Cruciferous vegetables contain glucosinolates (GSs), which, during mastication, are hydrolyzed by the enzyme myrosinase into bioactive breakdown products (BBPs), including sulforaphane. BBPs appear to induce synthesis of drug metabolism enzymes resulting in increased detoxification rates of carcinogens. This paper describes an interdisciplinary investigation designed to develop vegetable cultivars that offer chemoprotection from cancer at doses commensurate with a normal American diet. Initial work has focused on surveying sweet corn and Brassicae oleraceae germplasm for variation in vitamin and glucosinolate content in conjunction with in vitro and in vivo bioassays to determine which compounds and concentrations optimize chemoprotectant activity. Segregating populations from crosses between sweet corn and Brassica lines that vary in vitamin and GS concentrations will be assayed for chemical content and chemoprotectant activity, and genetically characterized using DNA marker technology to identify and map genes controlling these traits. This information will improve selection methodology in a breeding program aimed to develop brassica and sweet corn germplasm with enhanced cancer chemoprevention.

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Clayton L. Rugh, Scott A. Merkle, and Richard B. Meagher

The use of plants to stabilize, reduce, or detoxify aquatic and terrestrial pollution is known as phytoremediation. We have employed a molecular genetic approach for the development of potentially phytoremediative species using a bacterial gene for ionic mercury detoxification. One gene of the bacterial mercury resistance operon, merA, codes for mercuric ion reductase. This enzyme catalyzes the reduction of toxic, ionic mercury to volatile, elemental mercury having far lower toxicity. Early attempts to confer Hg++ resistance to plants using the wildtype merA gene were unsuccessful. We hypothesized the highly GC-skewed codon usage was ineffective for efficient plant gene expression, and sequence modification would be necessary to confer merA gene activity and ionic mercury resistance in plants. A directed mutagenesis strategy is being used to develop modified merA gene constructs for transformation and analysis in plants species. Transgenic Arabidopsis and yellow-poplar plants having modified merA codon usage display Hg++-resistance. Arabidopsis plants with modified merA were observed to evolve ≈4 times the quantity of Hg0 from aqueous Hg++ in controlled experiments. In contrast, plants with unaltered merA coding sequences display unstable and inactivated gene expression. Our progress towards further merA modification and transgenic plant development will be reported. Additionally, the theoretical phytoremediative benefits and potential advantages of merA-expressing plant species will be discussed as part of our long-term goals.

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Yongfeng Yang, Zhixiao Yang, Shizhou Yu, and Hongli Chen

Organic acid secretion from higher plant roots into the rhizosphere soil plays an important role in nutrient acquisition and metal detoxification; however, their precise functions and the related mechanisms in abiotic stress tolerance remain poorly understood. Tobacco is an important crop plant, so thoroughly elucidating these factors in tobacco is of high priority. In the present study, the activation effect on soil potassium (K), contents of exuded organic acids, and physiological changes in the roots of various tobacco varieties under both normal K supply and K-deficiency stress were investigated. Our results showed that one high-K variety (ND202) exhibited a significantly higher total content of organic acids in the root exudates and the highest available K content in the rhizosphere soil, compared with two common ones (K326 and NC89). Moreover, the high-K tobacco variety was less affected in terms of root vigor under K-deficiency stress, and displayed greater increases in the activities of the stress-resistant enzymes consisting of superoxide dismutase (SOD), peroxidase (POD), and catalase (CAT). Taken together, these results provide evidence that tobacco roots exude large amounts of organic acids to increase the available K content in the rhizosphere soil and improve the utilization rate of soil K.

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Guohai Xia and Lailiang Cheng

Four-year-old `Gala'/M.26 trees were grown under low (2.5 mm), medium (12.5 mm), or high (25 mm) N supply with balanced nutrients in sand culture and the cropload was adjusted to 5 fruit/cm2 trunk cross-sectional area at 10 mm king fruit. At about 100 days after bloom, exposed fruit on the south side of the canopy were chosen for monitoring chlorophyll fluorescence and fruit peel samples were taken for measuring xanthophyll cycle pigments, antioxidant enzymes, and metabolites. At noon, the efficiency of excitation transfer (Fv'/Fm') of the sun-exposed peel was higher in the low N treatment than in the medium or high N treatments. Photochemical quenching coefficient did not differ between fruits in different N treatments. The Photosystem II operating efficiency was higher in the peel of low N fruit compared with medium N or high N fruit. However, maximum quantum efficiency (Fv/Fm) of fruit peel after overnight dark adaptation was similar across the N treatments. The xanthophyll cycle pool size expressed on peel area basis was larger in the high N fruit than in the low N fruit. This corresponds well with the thermal dissipation capacity, as indicated by efficiency of excitation transfer. Over 95% of the xanthophyll cycle pool in the sun-exposed side was present in the form of zeaxanthin and antheraxanthin at noon regardless of N treatments. Activities of superoxide dismutase and all the antioxidant enzymes and metabolites in the ascorbate-glutathione cycle were higher in the high N fruit than in low N fruit. The results indicate that apple fruit with a good N status have a higher photoprotective capacity in terms of xanthophyll cycle-dependent thermal dissipation and detoxification of reactive oxygen species compared with low N fruit.