The effect of four soil-applied sulfur [S; 100 mg S kg-1 soil (100S) and 200 mg S kg-1 soil (200S)] in different sources (elemental S, ammonium sulfate, gypsum or magnesium sulfate) in protecting mustard (Brassica juncea L. Czern & Coss.) from cadmium effects was studied. Based on the observed reduction in growth and photosynthesis in plants subjected to 100 and 200 mg Cd kg-1 soil, B. juncea cv. Giriraj was selected as the most Cd-tolerant among five cultivars (namely, Giriraj, RH-0749, Pusa Agrani, RH-406, and Pusa Tarak). Sulfur applied to soil mitigated the negative impact of Cd on sulfur assimilation, cell viability and photosynthetic functions, with a lower lipid peroxidation, electrolyte leakage, and contents of reactive oxygen species (ROS: hydrogen peroxide, H2O2, and superoxide anion, O2•−). Generally, added S caused a higher activity of antioxidant enzymes (ascorbate peroxidase, catalase and superoxide dismutase), and contents of ascorbate (AsA) and reduced glutathione (GSH), and increases in the activities of their regenerating enzymes (dehydroascorbate reductase and GSH reductase), as well as rises in S assimilation, biosynthesis of non-protein thiols (NPTs) and phytochelatins (PCs). Compared to the other S-sources tested, elemental S more prominently protected B. juncea cv. Giriraj against Cd-impacts by minimizing Cd-accumulation and its root-to-shoot translocation; decreasing cellular ROS and membrane damage, and improving Cd-chelation (NPTs and PCs), so strengthening the defense machinery against Cd. The results suggest the use of elemental S for favoring the growth and development of cultivated plants also in Cd-contaminated agricultural soils.
Antioxidants; ascorbate; Brassica juncea; cadmium stress; Cd defense and tolerance; glutathione; Indian mustard; sulfur assimilation.
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