U.S. Department of Agriculture: Agricultural Research Service, Lincoln, Nebraska


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Environ Sci Pollut Res; DOI 10.1007/s11356-013-1983-4


Seedlings of Theobroma cacao CCN 51 genotype were grown under greenhouse conditions and exposed to increasing concentrations of Cu (0.005, 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, and 32 mg Cu L−1) in nutrient solution. When doses were equal or higher than 8mg Cu L−1, after 24 h of treatment application, leaf gas exchange was highly affected and changes in chloroplasts thylakoids of leaf mesophyll cells and plasmolysis of cells from the root cortical region were observed. In addition, cell membranes of roots and leaves were damaged. In leaves, 96 h after treatments started, increases in the percentage of electrolyte leakage through membranes were observed with increases of Cu in the nutrient solution. Moreover, there was an increase in the concentration of thiobarbituric acid-reactive substances in roots due to lipid peroxidation of membranes. Chemical analysis showed that increases in Cu concentrations in vegetative organs of T. cacao increased with the increase of the metal in the nutrient solution, but there was a greater accumulation of Cu in roots than in shoots. The excess of Cu interfered in the levels of Mn, Zn, Fe, Mg, K, and Ca in different organs of T. cacao. Analysis of gene expression via RTq-PCR showed increased levels of MT2b, SODCyt, and PER-1 expression in roots and of MT2b, PSBA, PSBO, SODCyt, and SODChI in leaves. Hence, it was concluded that Cu in nutrient solution at doses equal or above 8 mg L−1 significantly affected leaf gas exchange, cell ultrastructure, and transport of mineral nutrients in seedlings of this T. cacao genotype.