Chromium-Induced Reactive Oxygen Species Accumulation by Altering the Enzymatic Antioxidant System and Associated Cytotoxic, Genotoxic, Ultrastructural, and Photosynthetic Changes in Plants

Int J Mol Sci. 2020 Jan 22;21(3):728. doi: 10.3390/ijms21030728.


Chromium (Cr) is one of the top seven toxic heavy metals, being ranked 21st among the abundantly found metals in the earth's crust. A huge amount of Cr releases from various industries and Cr mines, which is accumulating in the agricultural land, is significantly reducing the crop development, growth, and yield. Chromium mediates phytotoxicity either by direct interaction with different plant parts and metabolic pathways or it generates internal stress by inducing the accumulation of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Thus, the role of Cr-induced ROS in the phytotoxicity is very important. In the current study, we reviewed the most recent publications regarding Cr-induced ROS, Cr-induced alteration in the enzymatic antioxidant system, Cr-induced lipid peroxidation and cell membrane damage, Cr-induced DNA damage and genotoxicity, Cr-induced ultrastructural changes in cell and subcellular level, and Cr-induced alterations in photosynthesis and photosynthetic apparatus. Taken together, we conclude that Cr-induced ROS and the suppression of the enzymatic antioxidant system actually mediate Cr-induced cytotoxic, genotoxic, ultrastructural, and photosynthetic changes in plants.

Keywords: antioxidants; cytotoxicity; genotoxicity; photosynthesis; reactive oxygen species.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / metabolism*
  • Cell Membrane / drug effects
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Chromium / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Lipid Peroxidation / drug effects
  • Photosynthesis / drug effects*
  • Plants / drug effects
  • Plants / metabolism
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism*


  • Antioxidants
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Chromium