Cadmium accumulation in chloroplasts and its impact on chloroplastic processes in barley and maize

Eugene A. Lysenko, Alexander A. Klaus, Natallia L. Pshybytko, Victor V. Kusnetsov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)


Data on cadmium accumulation in chloroplasts of terrestrial plants are scarce and contradictory. We introduced CdSO4 in hydroponic media to the final concentrations 80 and 250 μM and studied the accumulation of Cd in chloroplasts of Hordeum vulgare and Zea mays. Barley accumulated more Cd in the chloroplasts as compared to maize, whereas in the leaves cadmium accumulation was higher in maize. The cadmium content in the chloroplasts of two species varied from 49 to 171 ng Cd/mg chlorophyll, which corresponds to one Cd atom per 728-2,540 chlorophyll molecules. Therefore, Mg2+ can be substituted by Cd2+ in a negligible amount of antenna chlorophylls only. The percentage of chloroplastic cadmium can be estimated as 0.21-1.32 % of all the Cd in a leaf. Photochemistry (Fv/Fm, ΦPSII, qP) was not influenced by Cd. Non-photochemical quenching of chlorophyll-excited state (NPQ) was greatly reduced in barley but not in maize. The decrease in NPQ was due to its fast relaxing component; the slow relaxing component rose slightly. In chloroplasts, Cd did not affect mRNA levels, but content of some photosynthetic proteins was reduced: slightly in the leaves of barley and heavily in the leaves of maize. In all analyzed C3-species, the effect of Cd on the content of photosynthetic proteins was mild or absent. This is most likely the first evidence of severe reduction of photosynthetic proteins in leaves of a Cd-treated C4-plant.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)291-303
Number of pages13
JournalPhotosynthesis Research
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 17 Aug 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Barley
  • Cadmium
  • Chloroplasts
  • Maize
  • mRNA
  • Photosystem II activity
  • Proteins


Dive into the research topics of 'Cadmium accumulation in chloroplasts and its impact on chloroplastic processes in barley and maize'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this