Cadmium (Cd) is a highly toxic metal for plants, even at low concentrations in the soil. The annual production of world cocoa beans is approximately 4 million tons. Most of these fermented and dried beans are used in the manufacture of chocolate. Recent work has shown that the concentration of Cd in these beans has exceeded the critical level (0.6mgkg−1 DM). The objective of this study was to evaluate the toxicity of Cd in young plants of CCN 51 cacao genotype grown in soil with different concentrations of Cd (0, 0.05 and 0.1gkg−1 soil) through photosynthetic, antioxidative, molecular and ultrastructural changes. The increase of Cd concentration in the soil altered mineral nutrient absorption by competition or synergism, changed photosynthetic activity caused by reduction in chloroplastidic pigment content and damage to the photosynthetic machinery evidenced by the Fv/Fm ratio and expression of the psbA gene and increased GPX activity in the root and SOD in leaves. Additionally, ultrastructural alterations in roots and leaves were also evidenced with the increase of the concentration of Cd in the soil, whose toxicity caused rupture of biomembranes in root and leaf cells, reduction of the number of starch grains in foliar cells, increase of plastoglobules in chloroplasts and presence of multivesiculated bodies in root cells. It was concluded, therefore, that soil Cd toxicity caused damage to the photosynthetic machinery, antioxidative metabolism, gene expression and irreversible damage to root cells ultrastructure of CCN 51 cocoa plants, whose damage intensity depended on the exposure time to the metal.
Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety – Elsevier
Published: Oct 1, 2017
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