Selective Toxicity at Low Doses: Experiments with Three Plant Species and Toxicants

Sinkkonen, Aki; Myyrä, Mervi; Penttinen, Olli-Pekka; Rantalainen, Anna-Lea
January 2011
Dose-Response;2011, Vol. 9 Issue 1, p130
Academic Journal
During the last decade, the paradigm that low toxicant doses often have stimulatory effects on plants has become widely accepted. At the same time, low toxicant doses of metal salts have been observed to inhibit the growth of the most vigorous seedlings of a population in vitro, although mean plant size has remained unaffected. We hypothesized that this kind of selective low-dose toxicity is not restricted to inorganic contaminants. We exposed annual plants (baby's breath Gypsophila elegans, purslane Portulaca oleracea, and duckweed Lemna minor) to 1,3,4,6,7,8-hexahydro-4,6,6,7,8,8-hexamethylcyclopenta-γ-2-benzopyran (HHCB) and 4-tert-octylphenol and lead acetate. As compared to unexposed G. elegans roots, 4-tert-octylphenol did not affect the mean root size of all seedlings, but it reduced the average length of roots longer than the 98th percentile. A comparable response was found in case of G. elegans roots treated with lead acetate beyond the 90th percentile. The average size of roots beyond the 90th percentile was decreased also when L. minor was exposed to lead acetate though the means of all roots were constant. P. oleracea seemed to be insensitive to selective toxicity. We conclude that selective toxicity at low doses should be considered in parallel with hormesis.


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