Climate Change-Induced Heavy Metal (or Metalloid) Stress in Crop Plants and Possible Mitigation Strategies

Navin Kumar, Shilpi Paul, Shekhar Mallick

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Among the various changes which climate change would bring about, i.e., extreme weather, migration of population, shortage of food, and an outbreak of disease, the increase of heavy metal(loid)s in soils will also be another indirect effect as the soils would dry up. In such scenario, not only the productivity of crop plants would be compromised due to a changing environment, but also the food obtained will be having higher loads of heavy metal(loid)s. In addition, the plants would have to overcome the oxidative stress due to the excessive metal uptake. Abiotic stress due to toxic heavy metal(loid) like As, Cd, Pb, Hg, etc. remains an elusive and invisible challenge to the plants in general and crop plants in particular. Although plants has interconnected tolerance/s defense mechanisms, i.e., redox detoxification, glyoxalase, phytochelatin and metallothionein-mediated vacuolar sequestration, glutaredoxin-mediated pathways, under excess metal levels, the plant suffers from oxidative damage. The challenge becomes more acute under the extreme climatic conditions, demanding strategies to overcome such situations. Traditional breeding methods have a limited potential to improve plant genomes against environmental stresses, while the advent of recent biotechnological breakthroughs, i.e., genetically engineered varieties of different crops such as cotton, maize, rice, canola, and soybean and genome editing through CRISPER-Cas9, holds the answer. Several strategies can be adopted to achieve this, for example, engineering of tolerance pathways, like antioxidant enzymes, osmolyte accumulation, membrane-localized transporters, accumulation of essential elements, resistance against pests or pathogens and introgression of transporters and their overexpression, efficient nitrogen cycling, ascorbate-glutathione pathway, and regulation of stress-inducible phytohormones for climate-resilient crops. In view of these above views, this chapter comprises (i) metal/metalloid and their source of induction in the environment, (ii) mode of uptake by the plants, (iii) affected crops, (iv) metabolic pathways, (v) current investigations, (vi) mitigation strategies, (vii) and overall conclusion. Although climate change does not directly influence plant’s heavy metal(loid) uptake, in the environment, every aspect is interconnected. This chapter attempts to comprehensively account for all the strategies known for countering excess heavy metal(loid) uptake in plants.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSustainable Agriculture in the Era of Climate Change
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages34
ISBN (Electronic)9783030456696
ISBN (Print)9783030456689
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Abiotic stress
  • Asada cycle
  • Climate change
  • Dehydrins
  • Glyoxalase
  • Heavy metal(loid)s
  • Metallothionein
  • Phytohormones

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Engineering
  • General Environmental Science


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