Exposure routes, bioaccumulation and toxic effects of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) on plants: A critical review

By Jiuyi Li, Jing Sun, and Pengyang Li
Environ Int
October 6, 2021
DOI: 10.1016/j.envint.2021.106891

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) are artificial persistent organic pollutants ubiquitous in ecosystem, and their bioaccumulation and adverse outcomes in plants have attracted extensive concerns. Here, we review the toxic effects of PFASs encountered by various plants from physiological, biochemical and molecular perspectives. The exposure routes and bioaccumulation of PFASs in plants from contaminated sites are also summarized. The bioaccumulation of PFASs in plants from contaminated sites varied between ng/g and μg/g levels. The 50% inhibition concentration of PFASs for plant growth is often several orders of magnitude higher than the environmentally relevant concentrations (ERCs). ERCs of PFASs rarely lead to obvious phenotypic/physiological damages in plants, but markedly perturb some biological activities at biochemical and molecular scales. PFAS exposure induces the over-generated reactive oxygen species and further damages plant cell structure and organelle functions. A number of biochemical activities in plant cells are perturbed, such as photosynthesis, gene expression, protein synthesis, carbon and nitrogen metabolisms. To restore the desire states of cells exposed to PFASs, plants initiate several detoxifying mechanisms, including enzymatic antioxidants, non-enzymatic antioxidants, metallothionein genes and metabolic reprogramming. Future challenges and opportunities in PFAS phytotoxicity studies are also proposed in the review.

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