Biotech Updates

Study Reveals Impact of Sulfur on Mercury Accumulation in Rice

January 11, 2023

Researchers from the Guangdong Academy of Sciences, China, and partners reported that sulfur alleviates mercury toxicity in rice. Their findings are published in the Journal of Environmental Sciences.

Mercury contamination has caused a global concern because of its effects on human health when consumed through rice. Sulfur is vital for plant growth and may decrease mercury accumulation in rice grains. However, the specific impact of sulfur and the mechanisms involved in sulfur-mediated responses in mercury-stressed rice plants remain elusive. Thus, the researchers investigated the effects of sulfur on rice growth, mercury accumulation, physiology, and gene expression.

To investigate this, the researchers exposed the rice seedlings to two treatments: mercury and mercury plus sulfur. Results showed that sulfur reduced mercury accumulation in mercury-stressed rice roots and alleviated the inhibitory effects of mercury on rice growth. Sulfur also decreased the generation of reactive oxygen species, membrane lipid peroxidation levels, and activities of antioxidant enzymes. Changes in the expression of genes involved in biological processes were also observed.

Based on the transcriptomic and physiological changes recorded, the researchers concluded that sulfur may be critical for plant mercury stress resistance and may help in the phytoremediation of mercury contamination.

Read more findings in the Journal of Environmental Sciences.

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