Scientists from Russia found out why lead affects the yield of wheat

© RIA Novosti / Vitaly to Timepiece in photobacteriaScientists from Russia found out why lead affects the yield of wheat© RIA Novosti / Vitaly to Timepiece the image Bank

. Scientists from Russia found out why the getting of lead in the soil of the fields considerably slows the growth of wheat and other crops, and found a possible solution to this problem, according to a paper published in the Journal of Plant Physiology.

The cause of the deterioration of productivity of wheat, as noted by Galina Semenova from the Institute of theoretical and experimental Biophysics RAS, Pushchino, is that lead and other heavy metals disrupt the Assembly process of the future of chloroplasts, a key part of plant cells that convert light energy into nutrients.

High levels of lead, arsenic and many other elements in the water, water pipes, dishes and other household items and everyday life often leads to the development of serious disorders in the brain and body. Many historians today believe that the tradition of the use of lead cookware could be one of the causes of decline of Ancient Rome, and the highest concentration of lead in the water has caused health problems of children in flint in USA.

In this century, biologists have discovered that lead and other heavy metals affect not only mental abilities but also on the productivity of plants. The growth of wheat and other crops, as shown by monitoring fields and experiments in the laboratories, will slow down considerably in those cases, if the soil has plenty of lead, cadmium and other toxic and dangerous substances.

Scientists from Russia have tried to understand how lead interferes with the growth of wheat and other crops by observing the changes in the cells of cereals with the growth in «lead» soils, and in soil that contains enough selenium – a trace element that protects plants from heavy metals.

As shown by these experiments, large amounts of lead in the soil made wheat to «white» to lose its normal green color in fact everywhere except the tips of the leaves. The reason for this, as shown by analysis of the cell contents of leaves, was what lead disrupts the normal cycle of development of chloroplasts, the main «sugar factories» of plants. As a result, the sizes of seedlings with the «lead» of the soil were approximately two to three times smaller than the wheat of a similar age with clean soil.

Most of these problems, as shown by the experiments of scientists from ITEB and other scientific centers of Russia, can be removed by adding to the soil a small amount of selenium. If the concentration of lead in soil is quite low, the selenium can completely neutralize its effects, allowing the plant to grow at the same rate that the clean soils.

When the concentration of lead selenium gradually loses its efficiency as heavy metal begins to cause disruptions not only in the chloroplasts but also in other parts of the cells, in fact, completely stopping development of the plant. For this reason, selenium is not a universal remedy for protection of plants from heavy metals – it can only be applied in cases when the proportion of lead in the soil does not exceed 50 micrograms per kilogram of soil, enter into Biophysics.