Mercury mobility and effects in the salt-marsh plant Halimione portulacoides: Uptake, transport, and toxicity and tolerance mechanisms
Authors: Cabrita, MT; Duarte, B; Cesário, R; Mendes, R; Hintelmann, H; Eckey, K; Dimock, B; Caçador, I; Canário, J
Science of the Total Environment 650:111-120.
HERO ID: 4963166
The plant Halimione portulacoides, an abundant species widely distributed in temperate salt-marshes, . . .
The plant Halimione portulacoides, an abundant species widely distributed in temperate salt-marshes, has been previously assessed as bioindicator and biomonitor of mercury contamination in these ecosystems. The present study aims to assess uptake and distribution of total mercury (THg) and methylmercury (MMHg) within H. portulacoides, potential mercury release by volatilization through leaves, and toxicity and tolerance mechanisms by investigating plant photochemical responses. Stem cuttings of H. portulacoides were collected from a salt-marsh within the Tagus estuary natural protected area, and grown under hydroponic conditions. After root development, plants were exposed to 199HgCl2 and CH3201HgCl, and sampled at specific times (0, 1, 2, 4, 24, 72, 120, 168 (7 days) and 432 h (18 days)). After exposure, roots, stems and leaves were analysed for total 199Hg (T199Hg) and MM201Hg content. Photobiology parameters, namely efficiency and photoprotection capacity, were measured in leaves. Both THg and MMHg were incorporated into the plant root system, stems and leaves, with roots showing much higher levels of both isotope enriched spikes than the other plant tissues. Presence of both mercury isotopes in the stems and leaves and high significant correlations found between roots and stems, and stems and leaves, for both THg and MMHg concentrations, indicate Hg translocation between the roots and above-ground organs. Long-term uptake in stems and leaves, leading to higher Hg content, was more influenced by temperature and radiation than short-term uptake. However, the relatively low levels of both THg and MMHg in the aerial parts of the plant, which were influenced by temperature and radiation, support the possibility of mercury release by stems and leaves, probably via stomata aperture, as a way to eliminate toxic mercury. Regarding photochemical responses, few differences between control and exposed plants were observed, indicating high tolerance of this salt marsh plant to THg and MMHg.