Lead toxicity in plants: Impacts and remediation

Usman Zulfiqar, Muhammad Farooq*, Saddam Hussain, Muhammad Maqsood, Mubshar Hussain, Muhammad Ishfaq, Muhammad Ahmad, Muhammad Zohaib Anjum

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

213 Citations (Scopus)


Lead (Pb) is the second most toxic heavy metal after arsenic (As), which has no role in biological systems. Pb toxicity causes a range of damages to plants from germination to yield formation; however, its toxicity is both time and concentration dependent. Its exposure at higher rates disturbs the plant water and nutritional relations and causes oxidative damages to plants. Reduced rate of seed germination and plant growth under stress is mainly due to Pb interference with enzymatic activities, membrane damage and stomatal closure because of induction of absicic acid and negative correlation of Pb with potassium in plants. Pb induced structural changes in photosynthetic apparatus and reduced biosynthesis of chlorophyll pigments cause retardation of carbon metabolism. In this review, the noxious effects of Pb on germination, stand establishment, growth, water relations, nutrient uptake and assimilation, ultra-structural and oxidative damages, carbon metabolism and enzymatic activities in plants are reported. The Pb dynamics in soil rhizosphere and role of remediation strategies i.e. physical, chemical and biological to decontaminate the Pb polluted soils has also been described. Among them, biological strategies, including phytoremediation, microbe-assisted remediation and remediation by organic amendments, are cost effective and environmentally sound remedies for cleaning Pb contaminated soils. Use of organic manures and some agricultural practices have the potential to harvest better crops yield of good quality form Pb contaminated soils.

Original languageEnglish
Article number109557
JournalJournal of Environmental Management
Publication statusPublished - Nov 15 2019


  • Biochar
  • Chlorosis
  • Contamination
  • Phytoremediation
  • Remediation
  • Toxicity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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