Authors: IRA STANCHEVA, MARIA GENEVA, YULIANA MARKOVSKA, NIKOLINA TZVETKOVA, IVANKA MITOVA, MILKA TODOROVA, PETAR PETROV
Abstract: The effects of Cd, Pb, and Zn uptake on plant morphology, photosynthetic parameters, antioxidant potential, and essential oil yield and quality in Ocimum basilicum L. and Origanum vulgare L. plants were evaluated. The plants were grown as a pot experiment in soil heavily polluted with Cd and Pb and on unpolluted soil. Both plants accumulated Cd, mainly in the roots, while Pb occurred in the oregano shoots only. The leaf blade thickness of both plants increased when grown in polluted soil. Basil plants responded to the action of heavy metals with increases in gas exchange, stomatal conductivity, and transpiration, but water-use efficiency declined. Gas exchange and transpiration were reduced in treated oregano plants, but stomatal conductivity and water-use efficiency increased significantly. In basil, the increased levels of low molecular weight antioxidants such as phenols and flavonoids were observed, while in oregano, ascorbate, glutathione, and phenols were enhanced. Enzymatic antioxidant defense was observed in both plants when grown in contaminated soil, mainly with glutathione peroxidase, quaiacol peroxidase, glutathione S-transferase, and glutathione reductase. Accumulated levels of Cd, Pb, and Zn in plant organs resulted in a reduction in essential oil yield in basil only.
Keywords: Ocimum basilicum L., Origanum vulgare L., heavy metals, gas exchange parameters antioxidants, essential oils
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