Toxic metal ions in photoautotrophic organisms

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We summarize the contemporary understanding of the effects of metal stress on various photosynthetic processes in photoautotrophic organisms and of the defence strategies employed by these organisms to avoid such stress. Cadmium is in the centre of interest of this review, as a non-essential element and important environmental pollutant, but Al, Pb, Hg, As, Cu, and Zn are also considered. Toxic metal ions pollute the environment through anthropogenic activities and affect the quality of plant crop. They represent one of the main abiotic stress factors influencing the health of plants and, as a secondary effect, of animals including man. The review summarizes the generally accepted answers to the questions: How do the toxic metal ions enter the photosynthetic organisms? How are they accumulated in plants? Which mechanisms do plants develop to tolerate metal stress and protect themselves?

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