Perfluorinated alkyl substances affect the growth, physiology and root proteome of hydroponically grown maize plants

By Leonard Barnabas Ebinezer, Ilaria Battisti, Nisha Sharma, Laura Ravazzolo, Lokesh Ravi, Anna Rita Trentin, Giuseppe Barion, Anna Panozzo, Stefano Dall'Acqua, Teofilo Vamerali, Silvia Quaggiotti, Giorgio Arrigoni, and Antonio Masi
J Hazard Mater
July 2, 2022
DOI: 10.1016/j.jhazmat.2022.129512

Poly- and perfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of persistent organic pollutants causing serious global concern. Plants can accumulate PFAS but their effect on plant physiology, especially at the molecular level is not very well understood. Hence, we used hydroponically-grown maize plants treated with a combination of eleven different PFAS (each at 100 μg L) to investigate their bioaccumulation and effects on the growth, physiology and their impact on the root proteome. A dose-dependent decrease in root growth parameters was evidenced with a significant reduction in the relative growth rate, fresh weight of leaves and roots and altered photosynthetic parameters in PFAS-treated plants. Higher concentration of shorter PFAS (C < 8) was detected in the leaves, while long-chain PFAS (C ≥ 8) were more retained in roots. From the root proteome analysis, we identified 75 differentially abundant proteins, mostly involved in cellular metabolic and biosynthetic processes, translation and cytoskeletal reorganization. Validating the altered protein abundance using quantitative real-time PCR, the results were further substantiated using amino acid and fatty acid profiling, thus, providing first insight into the altered metabolic state of plants exposed to PFAS from a proteomics perspective.

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