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Elleuch, A., Chaâbene, Z., Grubb, D.C., Drira, N., Mejdoub, H. & Khemakhem, B. Morphological and biochemical behavior of fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum) under copper stress Ecotoxicol Environ Saf 98, 46-53, (2013) DOI: 10.1016/j.ecoenv.2013.09.028.

The effects of copper on germination and growth of fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum  ) was investigated separately using different concentrations of CuSO4. The germination percentage and radical length had different responses to cupric ions: the root growth increased with increasing copper concentration up to 1 mM Cu+2Cu2+ and was inhibited thereafter. In contrast, the germination percentage was largely unaffected by concentrations of copper below 10 mM.

The reduction in root growth may have been due to inhibition of hydrolytic enzymes such as amylase. Indeed, the average total amylolytic activity decreased from the first day of treatment with [Cu+2Cu2+] greater than 1 mM. Furthermore, copper affected various plant growth parameters. Copper accumulation was markedly higher in roots as compared to shoots. While both showed a gradual decrease in growth, this was more pronounced in roots than in leaves and in stems. Excess copper induced an increase in the rate of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) production and lipid peroxidation in all plant parts, indicating oxidative stress. This redox stress affected leaf chlorophyll and carotenoid content which decreased in response to augmented Cu levels. Additionally, the activities of proteins involved in reactive oxygen species (ROS) detoxification were affected. Cu stress elevated the ascorbate peroxidase (APX) activity more than two times at 10 mM CuSO4. In contrast, superoxide dismutase (SOD) and catalase (CAT) levels showed only minor variations, only at 1 mM Cu+2Cu2+. Likewise, total phenol and flavonoid contents were strongly induced by low concentrations of copper, consistent with the role of these potent antioxidants in scavenging ROS such as H2O2, but returned to control levels or below at high [Cu+2Cu2+]. Taken together, these results indicate a fundamental shift in the plant response to copper toxicity at low versus high concentrations.

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