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1.  Effects of aluminum on nucleoli in root tip cells and selected physiological and biochemical characters in Allium cepa var. agrogarum L 
BMC Plant Biology  2010;10:225.
Background
Increased Al concentration causes reduction of mitotic activity, induction of nucleolar alteration, increase of the production of ROS and alteration of several antioxidant enzyme activities in plant cells. Allium cepa is an excellent plant and a useful biomarker for environmental monitoring. Limited information is available about the effects of Al on nucleoli, antioxidant enzyme system, contents of MDA and soluble protein in A. cepa. Therefore, we carried out the investigation in order to better understand the effects of Al on the growth, nucleoli in root tip cells and selected physiological and biochemical characters.
Results
The results showed that the root growth exposed to 50 μM Al was inhibited significantly. 50 μM Al could induce some particles of argyrophilic proteins scattered in the nuclei and extruded from the nucleoli into the cytoplasm. The nucleolus did not disaggregate normally and still remained its characteristic structure during metaphase. Nucleolar reconstruction was inhibited. 50 μM Al induced high activities of SOD and POD in leaves and roots significantly (P < 0.05) when compared with control, whereas the level of CAT was low significantly (P < 0.05). At 50 μM Al the content of MDA in leaves was high significantly (P < 0.05) at 9th day and in roots increased (P < 0.05) with prolonging the treatment time during 6-12 days. The soluble protein content in leaves treated with 50 μM Al was high significantly (P < 0.05) at 6th day and increased with prolonging the treatment time.
Conclusions
We suggest that variations in nucleoli and the alterations of antioxidant enzyme activities, MDA and soluble protein contents in Allium cepa can serve as useful biomarkers, which can provide valuable information for monitoring and forecasting effects of exposure to Al in real scenarios conditions. Among the antioxidant enzymes SOD and POD appear to play a key role in the antioxidant defense mechanism under Al toxicity condition. Data from MDA concentration show that Al indirectly produces superoxide radicals, resulting in increased lipid peroxidative products and oxidative stress.
doi:10.1186/1471-2229-10-225
PMCID: PMC3017848  PMID: 20964828
2.  Pb-induced cellular defense system in the root meristematic cells of Allium sativum L 
BMC Plant Biology  2010;10:40.
Background
Electron microscopy (EM) techniques enable identification of the main accumulations of lead (Pb) in cells and cellular organelles and observations of changes in cell ultrastructure. Although there is extensive literature relating to studies on the influence of heavy metals on plants, Pb tolerance strategies of plants have not yet been fully explained. Allium sativum L. is a potential plant for absorption and accumulation of heavy metals. In previous investigations the effects of different concentrations (10-5 to 10-3 M) of Pb were investigated in A. sativum, indicating a significant inhibitory effect on shoot and root growth at 10-3 to 10-4 M Pb. In the present study, we used EM and cytochemistry to investigate ultrastructural alterations, identify the synthesis and distribution of cysteine-rich proteins induced by Pb and explain the possible mechanisms of the Pb-induced cellular defense system in A. sativum.
Results
After 1 h of Pb treatment, dictyosomes were accompanied by numerous vesicles within cytoplasm. The endoplasm reticulum (ER) with swollen cisternae was arranged along the cell wall after 2 h. Some flattened cisternae were broken up into small closed vesicles and the nuclear envelope was generally more dilated after 4 h. During 24-36 h, phenomena appeared such as high vacuolization of cytoplasm and electron-dense granules in cell walls, vacuoles, cytoplasm and mitochondrial membranes. Other changes included mitochondrial swelling and loss of cristae, and vacuolization of ER and dictyosomes during 48-72 h. In the Pb-treatment groups, silver grains were observed in cell walls and in cytoplasm, suggesting the Gomori-Swift reaction can indirectly evaluate the Pb effects on plant cells.
Conclusions
Cell walls can immobilize some Pb ions. Cysteine-rich proteins in cell walls were confirmed by the Gomori-Swift reaction. The morphological alterations in plasma membrane, dictyosomes and ER reflect the features of detoxification and tolerance under Pb stress. Vacuoles are ultimately one of main storage sites of Pb. Root meristematic cells of A. sativum exposed to lower Pb have a rapid and effective defense system, but with the increased level of Pb in the cytosol, cells were seriously injured.
doi:10.1186/1471-2229-10-40
PMCID: PMC2848760  PMID: 20196842

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