Greener Journal of Agricultural Sciences

Open Access

Bahri et al

Greener Journal of  Agricultural Sciences Vol. 4 (4), pp. 171-177, May 2014.

 ISSN: 2276-7770 © 2011 Greener Journals

Research Paper

Manuscript Number: 031014140


Photosynthetic Performance of Paulownia tomentosa (Thunb) Steud. Exposed to Heavy Metals Zinc and Cadmium


Nada Ben Bahri1*, Yousr Zaouchi1, Bochra Laribi1,2,

Salah Rezgui1, Taoufik Bettaieb1


National Agronomic Institute of Tunisia. 43, Av. Charles Nicolle-1082, Tunis, Tunisia.

2Higher  Agronomic Institute of Chott-Mariem, BP 47, 4042- ChottMeriem- Sousse, Tunisia.


*Corresponding Author’s Email: nbenbahri @ yahoo. fr, Tel: (+216) 71 28 71 10,

Fax: (+216) 71 79 93 91


The present study was carried out to assess the alteration in photosynthetic performance of Paulownia tomentosa seedlings produced in vitro and cultivated under glass house when exposed to trace metals: zinc (Zn) and cadmium (Cd). In this respect, Zn and Cd were added to the substrates of culture at various concentrations: Zn (250, 500, 750 and 1000 μM) and Cd (25, 50 and 75 μM). A non-supplemented substrate with metal salts was served as a control. The photosynthetic activity was evaluated through measurements of chlorophyll fluorescence and the photosynthetic pigments, namely chlorophyll a, chlorophyll b and total chlorophyll as well as the carotenoids. Main results showed that the initial fluorescence (F0) values were higher in plants grown on Zn added substrate compared to those grown in the presence of Cd. However, the Fv/Fm ratio which indicates the efficiency of photosystem II, ranged from 0.78 to 0.82 for all treatments. Additionally, the presence of 75μM Cd in the substrate stimulates the biosynthesis of chlorophyll pigments by increasing their proportions about approximately 196.77%, in comparison to the control. On the contrary, Zn significantly reduced the contents of these pigments by 9.45% compared to the control. Besides, when the Cd concentrations were 25, 50 and 75μM and Zn concentration was 250μM, the carotenoid contents increased up to 115.51%, 253.07%, 239.19% and 87.56% respectively, in comparison to the control, was noted. Overall, results of this study proved the ability of Paulownia tomentosa to maintain its photosystem activity even on Zn and Cd contaminated sites, despite the restrictive effect of Zn on the biosynthesis of photosynthetic pigments when its concentration exceeds 500 μM.

Keywords: Paulownia tomentosa, chlorophyll fluorescence, photosynthetic pigments, carotenoids, Zinc, Cadmium.


Adriano D.C., 2001. Trace elements in the Terrestrial Environment. Springer Verlag, New York. 866p.

Arnon D., 1949. Copper enzymes in isolated chloroplasts. Polyphenoloxidase in Beta vulgaris. Plant Physiology 24:1-15.

Azzarello E.,Pandolfi C., Giordano C., Rossi M., Mugnai S. and Mancuso S., 2012. Ultra-morphological and physiological modifications induced by high zinc levels in Paulownia tomentosa. Environmental and Experimental Botany 81:11-17.

Baker N.R. and Rosenqvist E., 2004. Applications of chlorophyll fluorescence can improve

crop production strategies: an examination of future possibilities. Journal of Experimental Botany 55: 1607-1621.

Bettaieb T., Denden M. and Mhamdi M., 2008. Régénération in vitro et caractérisation physiologique de variants somaclonaux de glaïeul (Gladiolus grandiflorus Hort.) tolérants aux basses températures. Tropicultura  26(1): 10-16.

Bjorkman O. and Demmig B., 1987. Photon yield of O2 evolution and chlorophyll fluorescence characteristics at 77°K among vascular plants of diverse origins. Planta 170: 489-504.

Bounaqba S., 1998. Analyse des déterminants de la tolérance à NaCl chez le blé tendre, le triticale et l’orge. Utilisation de la fluorescence chlorophyllienne dans le diagnostic de l’état fonctionnel du photosystèmeII. Thèse de Doctorat en physiologie végétale. Faculté des Sciences deTunis. 230 p

Doumett S., Fibbi D., Azzarello E., Mancuso S., Mugnai S., Petruzzelli G. and Del M., 2010. Influence of the application renewal of glutamate and tartrate on Cd,Cu, Pb and Zn distribution between contaminated soil and Paulownia tomentosa in a pilot-scale assisted phytoremediation study. International Journal of Phytoremediation 13: 1-17.

Faller P., 2005.  Mechanism of Cd2 + toxicity: Cd2 + inhibits photoactivation of Photosystem II by competitive binding to the essential Ca2+ site.  Biochimica and Biophysica Acta 1706: 158 -164.

Fornazier R.F., Ferrera R.R., Vitoria A.P., Molina S.M.G., Lea P.J. and Azevedo R.A., 2002. Effects of Cadmium on antioxidant enzyme activities in sugar cane.Biology of Plants  45: 91-97.

Gisbert C., Ros R., De Haro A., Walker D.J., Pilar Bernal M., Serrano R. and Navarro-Avino J., 2003. A plant genetically modified that accumulates Pb is especially promising for phytoremediation. Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications 303: 440-445.

Hall J.L., 2002. Cellular mechanisms for heavy metal detoxification and tolerance.Journal of experimental botany 53: 1-11

Lei L., Xiaoping H., Borthakur D. and Hui N., 2012. Photosynthetic activity and antioxidative response of seagrassThalassia hemprichii to trace metal stress. Acta Oceanologica Sinica 31(3):98-108

Maxwell K. and Johnson G.N., 2000. Chlorophyll fluorescence-a practical guide. Journal of Experimental Botany 51: 659–668.

Mysliwa-Kurdziel B. and Strzalka K., 2002. Influence of metals on biosynthesis of photosynthetic pigments. In : Physiology and Biochemistry of Metal Toxicity and Tolerance in Plants, Prasad M.N.V. et Strzalka K. (eds), Kluwer Academic Publishers, Netherlands 201-227.

Paulsen H., 1997. Pigment ligation to protein of the photosynthetic apparatus in higher plants. Physiologia Plantarum 100: 760-768.

Perreault F., 2008. Inhibition de la photochimie des photosystèmes II et I et modification de la dissipation d’énergie induite par le dichromate et l’aluminium chez des algues vertes. Université du Québec à Montréal. 158 p.

Pinto A.P., Mota A.M., de Varennes A. and Pinto F.C., 2004. Influence of organic matter on the uptake of cadmium, zinc, copper and iron by sorghum plants. Science of the Total Environment 326:239-247.

Prasad D.D.K. and Prasad A.R.K., 1987. Altered delta-aminolevulinic-acid metabolism by lead and mercury in germinating seedlings of bajra (Pennisetum typhoideum). Journal of Plant Physiology 127:241–249.

SAS Institute, 1999. SAS / STAT User’s Guide, version 8. SAS Institute Inc, Cary, NC.

Sbartai H., Djebar M.R., Sbartai I. and Berrabbah H., 2012. Bioaccumulation du Cd et du Zn chez les plants de tomates (Lycopersicon esculentum L.). Compte Rendu Biologies 335:585–593.

Singh R.P., Dabas S.and Choudhary A., 1996. Recovery of Pb2+ caused inhibition of chlorophyll biosynthesis in leaves of Vigna radiata (L.) Wilczej by inorganic salts. Indian Journal of Experimental Biology 34: 1129–1132.

Sinha S., Sinam G., Mishra R.K., et al., 2010. Metal accumulation, growth, antioxidants and oil yield of Brassica juncea L. exposed to different metals. Eco-toxicology and Environmental Safety 73(6): 1352-1361.

Stankovic D., Nikolic M.S., Krstic B. and Vilotic D., 2009. Heavy metal in the leaves of tree species Paulownia elongate S.Y.Hu in the region of city Belgrade. Biotechnol.&Bioequipment.Biotechnology & Biotechnological Equipment23: 1330-1336.

Vassilev A., Nikolova A., Koleva L. and Lidon F., 2011. Effects of Excess Zn on Growth and Photosynthetic Performance of Young Bean Plants. Journal of Phytology 3(6): 58-62

Walker C., Hopkin S., Sibly R. and Peakall D., 1996. Principles of ecotoxicology. Fourth Edition. Taylor & Francis.

Wang J., Li W., Zhang C., Ke S., 2010. Physiological responses and detoxific mechanisms To Pb, Zn, Cu and Cd in young seedlings of Paulownia fortunei. Journal of Environmental Sciences 22(12): 1916-1922.

Yang X.E., Long X.X., Ni W.Z. and Fu C.X., 2002. Sedum alfredii – a new zinc hyperaccumulating plant ecotype found in China. Chinese Science Bulletin 47, 1003–1006.