Oxidative stress is accepted to play a significant role in stress symptoms, caused by different stressors in a variety of organisms. In this study seedlings of spring barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) were exposed to a wide range of copper, zinc, chromium, nickel, lead and cadmium concentrations in order to determine the relationships between heavy metals-induced oxidative stress and plant growth inhibition. All investigated heavy metals induced an essential increase in lipid peroxidation and a reduction of dry biomass along with an increase in metal concentration in the nutrient solution. A very close and statistically significant exponential relationship between lipid peroxidation and growth inhibition was detected in this study. According to the results of analysis of variance (ANOVA), the intensity of nonspecific oxidative stress is identified as the main factor of barley growth inhibition, explaining 75% of total variance. Almost 10% of growth inhibition is attributed to the specific impact of heavy metals. The most pronounced increase of malondialdehyde content and growth inhibition was observed in Cu and Cd treatments, whereas the lowest changes in observed indicators were detected after exposure to Zn and Pb.
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