Pharmaceuticals in treated wastewater induce a stress response in tomato plants.

Affiliation

Institute of Plant Sciences and Genetics in Agriculture, Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Rehovot, 76100, Israel. [Email]

Abstract

Pharmaceuticals remain in treated wastewater used to irrigate agricultural crops. Their effect on terrestrial plants is practically unknown. Here we tested whether these compounds can be considered as plant stress inducers. Several features characterize the general stress response in plants: production of reactive oxygen species acting as stress-response signals, MAPKs signaling cascade inducing expression of defense genes, heat shock proteins preventing protein denaturation and degradation, and amino acids playing signaling roles and involved in osmoregulation. Tomato seedlings bathing in a cocktail of pharmaceuticals (Carbamazepine, Valporic acid, Phenytoin, Diazepam, Lamotrigine) or in Carbamazepine alone, at different concentrations and during different time-periods, were used to study the patterns of stress-related markers. The accumulation of the stress-related biomarkers in leaf and root tissues pointed to a cumulative stress response, mobilizing the cell protection machinery to avoid metabolic modifications and to restore homeostasis. The described approach is suitable for the investigation of stress response of different crop plants to various contaminants present in treated wastewater.

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