The potential of two different Avena sativa L. cultivars to alleviate Cu toxicity
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Agronomic strategies as intercropping might be applied to reduce plant-available copper (Cu) in Cu-contaminated soils. Thus, our aim was to characterize two different oat cultivars, Avena sativa L. cv. Fronteira and cv. Perona for their ability to tolerate and/or phytostabilize Cu. Copper toxicity reduced plant biomass of both cultivars. The exudate analysis revealed the presence of phenolic compounds and phytosiderophores, yet with a different pattern between the cultivars: cv. Fronteira showed a Cu-concentration and time-dependent release of phenolic compounds, while cv. Perona down-regulated this release during the second week of treatment. Copper concentration increased linearly in all the tissues analysed with increasing Cu concentration showing yet a different compartmentalization: cv. Fronteira and cv. Perona preferentially accumulated Cu in the apoplasm and symplast, respectively. This higher accumulation of Cu in the apoplasm strongly reduces the available binding sites, leading to a competitive absorption with other macro-and micronutrients (e.g. Ca, Mn, Zn). Furthermore, in both cultivars Cu toxicity led to a significant reduction of shoot phosphorus content. The ionomic profile and compartmentalization of Cu together with the root activities demonstrate the different tolerance mechanism towards Cu toxicity of the two oat cultivars. In particular, cv. Fronteira seems to adopt an exclusion strategy based on accumulating Cu in the apoplasm and on the exudation of phenolic compounds. Thus, this cultivar could reduce the mobility and the consequent soil bioavailability of Cu playing an important role as phytostabilizer plant in intercropping systems in Cu-contaminated vineyards or orchards.