Combined toxic effects and DNA damage to two plant species exposed to binary metal mixtures (Cd/Pb).


Univ. Lille, CHU Lille, Institut Pasteur de Lille, EA 4483 - IMPECS (IMPact of Environmental ChemicalS on human health), F-59000 Lille, France. Electronic address: [Email]


Acute and long-term (3-, 10- and 56-day exposure) laboratory toxicity tests were carried out to assess the individual and combined toxic effects of cadmium (Cd) and lead (Pb) in Brassica oleracea and Trifolium repens. In addition to morphological parameters, this work also used comet assay to address endpoints in relation to genotoxicity. Bioaccumulation was measured to demonstrate the influence of the mixture on the concentrations of each metal in the plant. The statistical method reported by Ince et al. (1999) was used to evaluate the types of interaction between Cd and Pb in each treatment and concerning their combined effect. This study concludes that the combined effects of binary metal combinations of Cd/Pb on morphological parameters are most often additive, sometimes antagonistic and more rarely synergistic, thus extending the findings of previous publications on this subject. DNA damage analysis revealed concentration- and time-dependent interactions. Synergistic effects of mixed metals (more breaks than individually applied metals) are observed in T. repens after a short exposure. Antagonistic effects are statistically significant after 10 days-exposure, suggesting competition between metals. At 56 days, the rate of DNA damage observed in plants exposed to the Cd/Pb mixture was similar to that measured in plants exposed to lead only and was significantly lower than the rate of DNA damage induced by Cd. This supports the idea that there may be competition between metals and also strengthens the hypothesis that long-term reparation mechanisms may be implemented. Cd/Pb co-exposure does not significantly influence the bioaccumulation of each metal. It is nevertheless important to note that a statistically significant 'interaction' is not necessarily biologically relevant and should therefore be considered with caution when assessing heavy metals combined effects.


Antagonism,Genotoxicity,Interactions,Joint effects,Metal mixture,