Implication of phytometabolites on metal tolerance of the pseudo-metallophyte -Rosmarinus officinalis-in a Mediterranean brownfield


  • Affholder Marie-Cécile
  • Laffont-Schwob Isabelle
  • Coulomb Bruno
  • Rabier Jacques
  • Borla Andreea
  • Boudenne Jean-Luc
  • Demelas Carine
  • Prudent Pascale


  • Field experiment
  • Metalloids
  • Metal translocation
  • Rosemary
  • Stress responses
  • Trace metals

document type



This study highlights the trace metal and metalloid (TMM) accumulation in Rosmarinus officinalis L. and its chemical responses when exposed to high levels of contamination. R. officinalis individuals growing along a gradient of mixed TMM soil pollution, resulting from past industrial activities, were analysed. Several plant secondary metabolites, known to be involved in plant tolerance to TMM or as a plant health indicator, were investigated. The levels of thiol compounds and phytochelatin precursors (cysteine and glutathione) in the shoots were measured in the laboratory, while a portable non-destructive instrument was used to determine the level of phenolic compounds and chlorophylls directly on site. The level of Pb, As, Sb and Zn contaminations within the soil and plants was also determined. The results highlighted a decrease of TMM translocation with increases of soil contamination. The concentration of TMM in the shoots followed the Mitscherlich equation and reached a plateau at 0.41, 7.9, 0.37, 51.3 mg kg−1 for As, Pb, Sb and Zn, respectively. In the shoots, the levels of thiols and phenols were correlated to concentrations of TMM. Glutathione seems to be the main thiol compounds involved in the tolerance to As, Pb and Sb. Phenols indices, using non-destructive measurements, may be considered as an easy way to establish a proxy to estimate the TMM contamination level of the R. officinalis shoots. The study highlights metabolic processes that contribute to the high potential of R. officinalis for phytostabilisation of TMM in contaminated areas in the Mediterranean.

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