Free-living macrophytes play an important role in the health of aquatic ecosystems. There-fore, the use of aquatic plants as metal biomonitors may be a suitable tool for the management of freshwater reservoirs. Hence, in this study, we assessed the effects of cadmium (Cd) in Salvinia biloba specimens collected from the Middle Paraná River during a 10-day experiment employing artificially contaminated water (100 µM Cd). S. biloba demonstrated a great ability for Cd bioaccumulation in both the root-like modified fronds (named “roots”) and the aerial leaf-like fronds (named “leaves”) of the plants. Additionally, Cd toxicity was determined by the quantification of photosynthetic pigments (chlorophylls a and b, and carotenoids), flavonoids, and soluble carbohydrate contents in S. biloba over time (1, 3, 5, 7, and 10 days). In general, deterioration was more pronounced in leaves than in roots, suggesting a greater implication of the former in long-term Cd sequestration in S. biloba. Deleterious effects in the appraised parameters were well correlated with the total amount of Cd accumulated in the leaves, and with the qualitative changes observed in the plants’ phenotype during the 10-day metal exposure assay. The flavonoids and carotenoids in leaves were highly affected by low Cd levels followed by root carbohydrates. In contrast, chlorophylls and root flavonoids were the least impacted physiological parameters. Therefore, our results demonstrate that S. biloba displays dissimilar organ-linked physiological responses to counteract Cd phytotoxicity and that these responses are also time-dependent. Though further research is needed, our work suggests that easy-handled physiological data obtained from autochthonous free-floating S. biloba specimens may be used as a valuable tool for metal-polluted water biomonitoring.
- Autochthonous macrophyte species
- Metal-polluted waters
- Salvinia biloba