Responses of Plants to Pesticide Toxicity: an Overview

Respostas de Plantas à Toxicidade de Pesticidas: Uma Visão Geral

A. SHARMA V. KUMAR A.K. THUKRAL R. BHARDWAJ About the authors

ABSTRACT:

Pesticides are applied all over the world to protect plants from pests. However, their application also causes toxicity to plants, which negatively affects the growth and development of plants. Pesticide toxicity results in reduction of chlorophyll and protein contents, accompanied by decreased photosynthetic efficiency of plants. Pesticide stress also generates reactive oxygen species which causes oxidative stress to plants. To attenuate the negative effects of oxidative stress, the antioxidative defense system of plants gets activated, and it includes enzymatic antioxidants as well as non-enzymatic antioxidants. The present review gives an overview of various physiological responses of plants under pesticide toxicity in tabulated form.

Keywords:
physiological responses; antioxidative defense system; oxidative stress

RESUMO:

Os pesticidas são aplicados no mundo todo para proteger as plantas contra as pragas. No entanto, essa aplicação também causa toxicidade às plantas, o que afeta de forma negativa o crescimento e o desenvolvimento delas. A toxicidade dos pesticidas resulta na redução dos teores de clorofila e proteína, acompanhada de menor eficiência fotossintética das plantas. O estresse causado por pesticidas também gera espécies reativas de oxigênio, que causam estresse oxidativo às plantas. Para atenuar os efeitos negativos do estresse oxidativo, o sistema de defesa antioxidante das plantas é ativado, e isso inclui antioxidantes enzimáticos e não enzimáticos. A presente revisão fornece uma visão geral de várias respostas fisiológicas de plantas sob toxicidade de pesticidas, em forma de tabela.

Palavras-chave:
respostas fisiológicas; sistema de defesa antioxidante; estresse oxidativo

INTRODUCTION

A pesticide is a compound which is utilized to repel, kill or prevent any pest. On the basis of the target killed, pesticides are mainly classified as herbicides, fungicides and insecticides. The increased demand of food on account of population explosion has compelled man to use pesticides for better crop production (Tomer, 2013Tomer N. Determination of chlorinated pesticide in vegetables, cereals and pulses by gas chromatography in east national capital region, Delhi, India. Res J Agric For Sci. 2013;1:27-8.). Pesticides are used to protect crops in the field as well as during post-harvest storage to minimize crop damage. Crop plants are attacked by a variety of pests which include soil insects, cut worms, leaf rollers, aphids etc., and pesticides are mostly used to control these pests (Goh et al., 2011Goh WL, Yiu P-H, Wong S-C, Rajan A. Safe use of chlorpyrifos for insect pest management in leaf mustard (Brassica juncea L. Coss.). J Food Agric Environ. 2011;9(3/4):1064-6.). Nowadays, there are other alternatives to control these insect pests which include the use of bio-pesticides and development of pest resistant transgenic varieties. However, the use of chemical pesticides is still the best and most widely applied strategy to protect crops from pests and results in high yield production of crops. It has been reported that approximately two million tonnes of pesticides are consumed annually throughout the world (De et al., 2014De A, Bose R, Kumar A, Mozumdar S. Worldwide pesticide use. In: De A, Bose R, Kumar A, Mozumdar S. editors. Targeted delivery of pesticides using biodegradable polymeric nanoparticles New Delhi: Springer; 2014. p.5-6. ). Global pesticide consumption includes 47.55% of herbicides, 29.5% of insecticides, 17.5% of fungicides and 5.5% of other pesticides.

Transpiration pull helps in the absorption of water soluble pesticides and their entry into the plant system. Volatile pesticides indirectly come into the atmosphere via leaves through stomata during transpiration. Plants absorb pesticides via roots, leaf surface or roots. A number of factors are involved in pesticide uptake and its metabolism in the plant system which include external environmental factors (temperature, humidity and precipitation) and physiochemical properties of soil and pesticides (Finlayson and MacCarthy, 1973Finlayson DG, MacCarthy HR. Pesticides residues in plants. In: Edwards CA. editor. Environmental pollution by pesticides. London: Plenum Press; 1973. p.57-86.). Uptake of pesticides via the root system and their metabolism in the plant system is affected by factors such as mode of application, amount of pesticide, physiochemical and biochemical properties of pesticides and their reaction with soil and stage of plant development (Führ, 1991Führ F. Radiotracers in pesticide studies-advantages and limitations. Cienc Cult. 1991;43:211-6.). Absorption of pesticides by plants is also determined by their degree of water solubility. Pesticide uptake takes place either by active absorption via the root system, or by passive absorption. Absorbed pesticides are either metabolized by the plant system or accumulate in plants, causing bio-magnification in the ecosystem (Mwevura, 2000Mwevura H. Study on the levels of organochlorine pesticide residues from selected aquatic bodies of Tanzania [thesis]. Tanzania: University of Dar es Salaam; 2000.).

Pesticide application also causes toxicity to plants, which can be seen in the form of necrosis, chlorosis, stunting, burns and twisting of leaves (Sharma et al., 2018aSharma A, Kumar V, Kumar R, Shahzad B, Thukral AK, Bhardwaj R. Brassinosteroid-mediated pesticide detoxification in plants: A mini-review. Cog Food Agric. 2018a; 4: doi.org/10.1080/23311932.2018.1436212). The excessive use of pesticides is one of the major causes of reduction of the diversity of structural vegetation (Donald, 2004Donald PF. Biodiversity impacts of some agricultural commodity production systems. Cons Biol. 2004;18:17-37.). Sensitive or stressed plants may be extra vulnerable to phytotoxicity. Toxicity depends upon many factors such as use of pesticides, rate of application, spraying technique, climate conditions, organization of flora, humidity and properties of soil such as moisture, temperature, pH, texture and microbial activity. It has been found that pesticide application negatively affects plant growth and development (Sharma et al., 2015, 2016aSharma A, Kumar V, Singh R, Thukral AK, Bhardwaj R. Effect of seed pre-soaking with 24-epibrassinolide on growth and photosynthetic parameters of Brassica juncea L. in imidacloprid soil. Ecotoxicol Environ Safe. 2016a;133:195-201., Shahzad et al., 2018Shahzad B, Tanveer M, Che Z, Rehman A, Cheema SA, Sharma A, Song H, Rehman S, Zhaorong D. Role of 24-epibrassinolide (EBL) in mediating heavy metal and pesticide induced oxidative stress in plants: A review. Ecotoxicol Environ Saf. 2018; 147: 935-44.). Pesticide application causes oxidative stress to plants as a result of the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) Sharma et al., 2018bSharma A, Kumar V, Yuan H, Kanwar MK, Bhardwaj R, Thukral AK, Zheng B. Jasmonic acid seed treatment stimulates insecticide detoxification in Brassica juncea L. Fron Plant Sci. 2018b; 9:1609. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2018.01609
https://doi.org/10.3389/fpls.2018.01609...
). This oxidative stress results in degradation of chlorophyll pigments and proteins and it ultimately causes a reduction in the photosynthetic efficiency of plants (Xia et al., 2006Xia XJ, Huang YY, Wang L, Huang LF, Yu WL, Zhou YH, Yu JQ. Pesticides induced depression of photosynthesis was alleviated by 24-epi-brassinolide pre-treatment in Cucumis sativus L. Pestic Biochem Physiol. 2006;86:42-8.; Sharma et al., 2015). To cope up with oxidative stress, the antioxidative defense system of plants is activated, which involves enzymatic and non-enzymatic antioxidants (Xia et al., 2009Xia XJ, Zhang Y, Wu JX, Wang JT, Zhou YH, Shi K. et al. Brassinosteroids promote metabolism of pesticides in cucumber. J Agric Food Chem. 2009;57(18):8406-13.; Sharma et al., 2015; 2016b,c,dSharma A, Thakur S, Kumar V, Kanwar MK, Kesavan AK, Thukral A. Pre-sowing seed treatment with 24-epibrassinolide ameliorates pesticide stress in Brassica juncea L. through the modulation of stress markers. Front Plant Sci. 2016d;7:1569. Doi: 10.3389/fpls.2016.01569.). Activation of the antioxidative defense system aids with ROS scavenging and reduces the oxidative stress in plants caused by pesticide toxicity (Sharma et al., 2015, 2017aSharma A, Kumar V, Kanwar MK, Thukral AK, Bhardwaj R. Ameliorating imidacloprid induced oxidative stress by 24-epibrassinolide in Brassica juncea L. Russ J Plant Physiol. 2017a;64(4):509-17.,bSharma A, Thakur S, Kumar V, Kesavan AK, Thukral AK, Bhardwaj R. 24-epibrassinolide stimulates imidacloprid detoxification by modulating the gene expression of Brassica juncea L. BMC Plant Biol. 2017b;17:56. Doi:10.1186/s12870-017-1003-9). The present review has been planned to give a detailed overview of various physiological changes in plants subjected to pesticide treatment. Physiological responses of plants to pesticide application have been summarized in tabulated form.

PHYSIOLOGICAL RESPONSES OF PLANTS TO PESTICIDE TOXICITY

Table 1, 2 and 3 show oxidative stress markers, enzymatic antioxidants and non-enzymatic antioxidants, respectively, whereas supplementary Tables 1, 2 and 3 give a detailed overview for growth parameters, pigment system, photosynthetic parameters and protein content, respectively, in plants against pesticide toxicity.

It has been concluded that pesticide application causes oxidative stress in plants by production of reactive oxygen species. This ultimately leads to retarded growth and photosynthetic efficiency of plants. Plants try to ameliorate pesticide toxicity by activation of their internal antioxidative defense system which includes antioxidative enzymes and non-enzymatic antioxidants.

Table 1
Effect of pesticides on oxidative stress markers in plants

Table 2
Effect of pesticides on enzymatic antioxidants in plants

Table 3
Effect of pesticides on non-enzymatic antioxidants in plants

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Publication Dates

  • Publication in this collection
    19 Aug 2019
  • Date of issue
    2019

History

  • Received
    21 Aug 2017
  • Accepted
    18 Sept 2017
Sociedade Brasileira da Ciência das Plantas Daninhas Departamento de Fitotecnia - DFT, Universidade Federal de Viçosa - UFV, 36570-000 - Viçosa-MG - Brasil, Tel./Fax::(+55 31) 3899-2611 - Viçosa - MG - Brazil
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