Using biochemical and nutrient analysis to understand the role of methylglyoxal signalling in soybean exposed to zirconium
Ndlovu, Linda Esihle
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Soybean have been listed as a priority commodity crop in South Africa (SA) and provide a good source of protein to the population. Therefore, soybean has been earmarked as an important food security crop and strategies are currently being discussed at governmental level to increase and sustain soybean production. However, the SA landscape poses many challenges to the agricultural sector such as prolong drought periods, flooding, nutrient poor soils, saline soils and heavy metal contaminated soils. Heavy metal (HM) contamination is becoming a serious concern and is aggravated by historical mining in SA. Indeed, SA has established itself as the number one ranked mining country in the world and is frequently mining metals such as chromium, vanadium, gold, zirconium, platinum, and antimony. Prolong rainfall near mining areas leads to acid mine drainage which lowers the soil pH to approximately two. These highly acidic soils will solubilize the metals and cause the metals to leach into river systems as well as the water table leading to increase heavy metal contamination in nearby soil sites. This increase metal content negatively affects seed germination and overall plant development. Nonetheless, plants have evolved numerous internal mechanisms that help them to survive HM toxicity; by either avoiding or tolerating the stress. Two stress-activated pathways that help the plant tolerate stress have attracted much interest i.e. the glyoxalase system and reactive oxygen species (ROS) - antioxidant system as they detoxify methylglyoxal (MG) and ROS.