Although trace elements are essential for life, environmental contamination due to metal accumulation and overuse in various sectors, such as healthcare, agriculture, industry, and cosmetics, poses significant health concerns. Exposure of plants to heavy metals leads to the overproduction of reactive oxygen species (ROS) due to their ability to change mitochondrial membrane permeability and restrict the action of ROS clearance enzymes in the cellular antioxidant system. The interaction of ROS with cellular membranes, heavy-metal-induced interactions directly or indirectly with different macromolecules, and signaling pathways leads to the accumulation of environmental pollutants and oxidative stress in exposed organisms. The heavy metal–ROS–cell signaling axis affects various pathological processes such as ATP depletion, excess ROS production, mitochondrial respiratory chain damage, decoupling of oxidative phosphorylation, and mitochondrial death. This review focuses on discussing the toxic effects of different heavy metals on plants, with particular emphasis on oxidative stress, its consequences, and mitigation strategies.
The Basic Science Research Program supported this research through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF), funded by the Ministry of Education (2019R1A6A1A11052070).
© 2023 by the authors.
- cell death
- heavy metals
- mitochondrial dysfunction