Calcium (Ca) and the toxic heavy metal cadmium (Cd) are antagonistic ions competing for uptake in plants when they co-occur in soil solutions, and high Ca concentrations can reduce the uptake of Cd in plants. However, less is known about the effects of low Ca bioavailability on Cd uptake and translocation in plants. We hypothesized that low Ca availability would enhance Cd uptake and translocation in Sesbania sesban, a fast-growing shrub potentially useful for Cd removal from contaminated soils, and Brassica juncea, a well-known Cd-hyperaccumulator. The two species were grown under controlled conditions for 21 days in hydroponic nutrient solutions with either 0.2 or 2 mM Ca and 0 or 50 µM Cd in a 2 × 2 factorial experimental design. Both species had a lower relative growth rate, final root length and shoot and root biomasses at 50 µM Cd compared with growth without Cd. The negative effects of Cd on both species were exacerbated at low Ca availability. Brassica juncea had higher root Cd concentrations than S. sesban, but the shoot Cd concentrations did not differ between the two species. The low Ca concentration enhanced the uptake of Cd in the roots of both species, but Cd translocation to the shoots was low, especially at 0.2 mM Ca. We conclude that the low Ca concentration enhanced the uptake of Cd into roots of S. sesban and B. juncea and increased the phytotoxicity of Cd. The translocation of Cd to the shoots of the two species was, however, lower at 0.2 mM than at 2 mM Ca, implying that Cd removal from polluted soil cannot simply be increased by adjusting ion concentrations.
Eller, F., & Brix, H. (2016). Influence of low calcium availability on cadmium uptake and translocation in a fast-growing shrub and a metalaccumulating herb. AoB PLANTS, 8. https://doi.org/10.1093/aobpla/plv143