Citric acid assisted phytoextraction of nickle from soil helps to tolerate oxidative stress and expression profile of NRAMP genes in sunflower at different growth stages
Soil polluted with Nickel (Ni) adversely affects sunflower growth resulting in reduced yield. Counterbalancing Ni toxicity requires complex molecular, biochemical, and physiological mechanisms at the cellular, tissue, and whole plant levels, which might improve crop productivity. One of the primary adaptations to tolerate Ni toxicity is the enhanced production of antioxidant enzymes and the elevated expression of Ni responsive genes. Methods: In this study, biochemical parameters, production of ROS, antioxidants regulation, and expression of NRAMP metal transporter genes were studied under Ni stress in sunflower. There were four soil Ni treatments (0, 50, 100, and 200 mg kg-1 soil), while citric acid (CA, 5 mM kg-1 soil) was applied on the 28th and 58th days of plant growth. The samples for all analyses were obtained on the 30th and 60th day of plant growth, respectively. Results and discussion: The results indicated that the concentrations of Ni in roots and shoots were increased with increasing concentrations of Ni at both time intervals. Proline contents, ascorbic acid, protein, and total phenolics were reduced under Ni-stress, but with the application of CA, improvement was witnessed in their contents. The levels of malondialdehyde and hydrogen peroxide were enhanced with the increasing concentration of Ni, and after applying CA, they were reduced. The contents of antioxidants, i.e., catalase, peroxidase, superoxide dismutase, ascorbate peroxidase, dehydroascorbate reductase, and glutathione reductase, were increased at 50 ppm Ni concentration and decreased at higher concentrations of Ni. The application of CA significantly improved antioxidants at all concentrations of Ni. The enhanced expression of NRAMP1 (4, 51 and 81 folds) and NRAMP3 (1.05, 4 and 6 folds) was found at 50, 100 and 200ppm Ni-stress, respectively in 30 days old plants and the same pattern of expression was recorded in 60 days old plants. CA further enhanced the expression at both developmental stages. Conclusion: In conclusion, CA enhances Ni phytoextraction efficiency as well as protect plant against oxidative stress caused by Ni in sunflower.