Tough Sprouting – Impact of Cadmium on Physiological State and Germination Rate of Soybean Seeds

Jagna Chmielowska-Bąk, Renata Holubek, Marina Frontasyeva, Inga Zinicovscaia, Selin İşidoğru, Joanna Deckert


Seed germination is the earliest process in plant development and is crucial for further plant growth and fitness. The process is regulated by various internal and external factors, including soil pollutants such as nonessential metals. In the present study, we examined in detail the impact of short-term imbibition in Cd solutions at several concentrations (5, 10, and 25 mg/L) on germination rate and physiological state of soybean seeds. The results showed that although Cd was readily absorbed by the seeds, the metal had no effect on seeds cell viability, oxidative stress intensity, or germination percentage. In contrast, imbibition in Cd solution led to slight reduction in antioxidant capacity of seeds. Seedlings grown from seeds pretreated with metal showed no differences in growth in relation to the control. Taken together, the results indicate that soybean seeds are relatively tolerant even to high Cd concentration (up to 25 mg/L).


metal stress; antioxidants; cell viability; lipid peroxidation

Full Text:



Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. (2020). ATSDR’s substance priority list.

Arc, E., Galland, M., Godin, B., Cueff, C., & Rajjou, L. (2013). Nitric oxide implication in the control of seed dormancy and germination. Frontiers in Plant Science, 4, Article 346.

Bailly, C., El-Maarouf-Bouteau, H., & Corninea, U. (2008). From intracellular signaling network to cell death: The dual role of reactive oxygen species in seed physiology. Comptes Rendus Biologies, 331, 806–814.

Brand-Williams, W., Cuvelier, M. E., & Berset, C. (1995). Use of free radical method to evaluate antioxidant activity. LWT – Food Science and Technology, 28, 25–30.

Chmielowska-Bąk, J., Gzyl, J., Rucińska-Sobkowiak, R., Arasimowicz-Jelonek, M., & Deckert, J. (2014). The new insights into cadmium sensing. Frontiers in Plant Science, 5, Article 245.

Cuypers, A., Smeets, K., Ruytinx, J., Opdenakker, K., Keunen, E., Remens, T., Horemans, N., Vanhoudt, N., Sanden, S., F., B., Guisez., Y., Colpaert, J., & Vangronsveld, J. (2011). The cellular redox state as a modulator in cadmium and copper responses in Arabidopsis thaliana seedlings. Journal of Plant Physiology, 168, 309–316.

Díaz, J., Silvar, C., Varela, M. M., Bernal, A., & Merino, F. (2005). Fusarium confers protection against several mycelial pathogens of pepper plants. Plant Pathology, 54, 773–780.

Donohue, K. (2005). Seeds and seasons: Interpreting germination timing in the field. Seed Science Research, 15, 175–187.

Finch-Savage, W. E., & Leubner-Metzger, G. (2006). Seed dormancy and the control of germination. New Phytologist, 171, 501–523. 8137.2006.01787.x

Gallego, S. M., Pena, L. B., Barcia, R. A., Azpillicueta, C. E., Iannone, M. F., Rosales, E. P., Zawoznik, M. S., Groppa, M. D., & Benavides, M. P. (2012). Unravelling cadmium toxicity and tolerance in plants: Insight into regulatory mechanisms. Environmental and Experimental Botany, 83, 33–46.

Ilić, S. Z., Mirecki, N., Trajković, R., Kapoulas, N., Milenković, L., & Šunić, L. (2015). Effect of Pb on germination of different seeds and his translocation in bean seed tissues during sprouting. Fresenius Environmental Bulletin, 24, 670–675.

Jia, Z., Tang, M., & Wu, J. (1998). The determination of flavonoid contents in mulberry and their scavenging effects on superoxides radicals. Food Chemistry, 64, 555–559.

Kavuličova, J., Kaduková, J., & Ivánová, J. (2012). The evaluation of heavy metal toxicity in plants using the biochemical tests. Nova Biotechnologica et Chimica, 11, 101–109.

Khan, M. A., Khan, S., Khan, A., & Alam, M. (2017). Soil contamination with cadmium, consequences and remediation using organic amendments. Science of The Total Environment, 601-602, 1591–1605.

Khan, S., Khan, M. A., & Rehman, S. (2011). Lead and cadmium contamination of different roadside soils and plants in Peshawar City, Pakistan. Pedoshere, 21, 351–357.

Kranner, I., & Colvillle, L. (2011). Metals and seeds: Biochemical and molecular implications and their significance for seed germination. Environmental and Experimental Botany, 72, 93–105.

Lefévre, I., Marchal, G., Gorréal, E., Zanuzzi, A., & S, L. (2009). Variation in response to heavy metals during vegetative growth in Dorycnium pentaphyllum Scop. Plant Growth Regulation, 59, 1–11.

Lehotai, N., Petö, A., Bajkán, S., Tari, I., & Kobert, Z. (2011). In vivo and in situ visualization of early physiological events induces by heavy metals in pea root meristem. Acta Physiologiae Plantarum, 33, 2199–2207.

Miransari, M., & Smith, D. L. (2014). Plant hormones and seed germination. Environmental and Experimental Botany, 99, 110–121.

Mukherjee, S. P., & Choudhuri, M. A. (1985). Implication of hydrogen peroxide–ascorbate system on membrane permeability of water stressed Vigna seedlings. New Phytologist, 99, 355–360.

Poschenrieder, C., Cabot, C., Martos, S., Gallego, B., & Barceló, J. (2013). Do toxic ions induce hormesis in plants? Plant Science, 212, 15–25.

Rizwan, M., Alis, S., Adrees, M., Ibrahim, M., Tsang, D. C. W., Zia-Ur-Rehman, M., Zahir, Z. A., Rinklebe, J., Tack, F. M. G., & Ok, Y. S. (2017). A critical review on effects, tolerance mechanisms and management of cadmium vegetables. Chemosphere, 182, 90–105.

Sethy, S. K., & Ghosh, S. (2013). Effect of heavy metals on germination of seeds. Journal of Natural Science, Biology and Medicine, 2, 272–275. 9668.116964

Shu, K., Liu, X. D., Xie, Q., & He, Z. H. (2016). Two faces of one seed: Hormonal regulation of dormancy and germination. Molecular Plant, 9, 34–45.

Sims, D. A., & Gamon, J. A. (2002). Relationship between leaf pigment content and spectral reflectance across a wide range of species, leaf structures and developmental stages. Remote Sensing of Environment, 87, 337–354. 4257(02)00010-X

Sneideris, L. C., Gavassi, M. A., Campos, M. L., D’Amico-Damião, V., & Carvalho, R. F. (2015). Effects of hormonal priming on seed germination of pigeon pea under cadmium stress. Anais da Academia Brasileira de Ciências, 87, 1847–1852. 3765201520140332

Tao, L., Guo, M., & Ren, J. (2015). Effects of cadmium on seed germination, coleoptile growth, and root elongation in six pulses. Polish Journal of Environmental Studies, 24, 295–299.

Towill, E. L., & Mazur, P. (1974). Studies on the reduction of 2,3,5-triphenyltetrazolium chloride as a viability assay for plant tissue cultures. Canadian Journal of Botany, 53, 1097–1102.

Tran, T. A., & Popova, L. P. (2013). Functions and toxicity of cadmium in plants: Recent advances and future prospects. Turkish Journal of Botany, 37, 1–13.

Wahis, A., & Khaliq, S. (2015). Architectural and biochemical changes in embryonic tissues of maize under cadmium toxicity. Plant Biology, 17, 1005–1012.

Wang, L., Cui, X., Cheng, H., Chen, F., Wang, J., Zhao, X., Lin, C., & Pu, X. (2015). A review of soil contamination in China including health risk assessment. Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 22, 16441–16452.

Waterworth, W. M., Bray, C. M., & West, C. E. (2015). The importance of safeguarding genome integrity in germination and seed longevity. Journal of Experimental Botany, 66, 3549–3558.

Wietbrecht, K., Műller, K., & Leubner-Metzger, G. (2011). First off the mark: Early seed germination. Journal of Experimental Botany, 62, 3289–3309.

Wojtyla, Ł., Lechowska, K., Kubala, S., & Garnczarska, M. (2016). Different modes of hydrogen peroxide action during seed germination. Frontiers in Plant Science, 7, Article 66.

Zayneb, C., Bassem, K., Zeineb, K., Grubb, C. D., Nureddine, D., Hafedh, M., & Amine, E. (2015). Physiological responses of fenugreek seedlings and plants treated with cadmium. Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 22, 10679–10689.