Production of phytochelatins and glutathione by marine phytoplankton in response to metal stress

Kawakami, S.K., Gledhill, M. and Achterberg, E.P. (2006) Production of phytochelatins and glutathione by marine phytoplankton in response to metal stress Journal of Phycology, 42, (5), pp. 975-989. (doi:10.1111/j.1529-8817.2006.00265.x).


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Phytoplankton deal with metal toxicity using a variety of biochemical strategies. One of the strategies involves glutathione (GSH) and phytochelatins (PCs), which are metal-binding thiol peptides produced by eukaryotes and these compounds have been related to several intracellular functions, including metal detoxification, homeostasis, metal resistance and protection against oxidative stress. This paper assesses our state of knowledge on the production of PCs and GSH by marine phytoplankton in laboratory and field conditions and the possible applications of PCs for environmental purposes. Good relationships have been observed between metal exposure and PC production in phytoplankton in the laboratory with Cd, Pb, and Zn showing the greatest efficacy, thereby indicating that PCs have a potential for application as a biomarker. Fewer studies on PC distributions in particulate material have been undertaken in the field. These studies show that free Cu has a strong relationship with the levels of PC in the particulate material. The reason for this could be because Cu is a common contaminant in coastal waters. However it could also be due to the lack of measurements of other metals and their speciation. GSH shows a more complex relationship to metal levels both in the laboratory and in the field. This is most likely due to its multifunctionality. However, there is evidence that phytoplankton act as an important source of dissolved GSH in marine waters, which may form part of the strong organic ligands that control metal speciation, and hence metal toxicity.

Item Type: Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): doi:10.1111/j.1529-8817.2006.00265.x
ISSNs: 1529-8817 (print)
Related URLs:
ePrint ID: 38072
Date :
Date Event
Date Deposited: 01 Jun 2006
Last Modified: 16 Apr 2017 22:00
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