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Table 3 Overview of some heavy metal triggered signals in comparison to other environmental stresses

From: How plants cope with heavy metals

Heavy metal Signal Other stress conditions Cellular responses References
Copper Calcium fluxes Cold, drought, salinity Phosphoprotein cascades, 2nd signalling molecules Nielson et al. Nielsen et al. 2003reviewed by Sanders et al. 1999Knight 2000
Cadmium, chromium Mitogen activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathways Osmotic stress, pathogen contact Activation of transcription factors and stress-responsive genes Liu et al. 2010Ding et al. 2009, reviewed in Xiong et al. 2002
Iron pH shifts Pathogen contact Induction of secondary metabolism ;Marschner and Römheld 1983Viehweger et al. 2006
Cobalt, zinc Plant hormones like abscisic acid or ethylene Cold, drought, salinity Calcium signalling, guard cell regulation (water balance) Zengin 2006reviewed in Zhu 2002
Cadmium, copper Jasmonic acid Pathogen contact, sugar, drought, salinity Defence/stress response, development, induction of secondary metabolism Agrawal et al. 2003Chen et al. 2006Maksymiec 2011reviewed in Howe and Schilmiller 2002Turner et al. 2002
Redox-active metals like iron, copper; almost all heavy metals at higher concentrations Reactive oxygen species Pathogen contact, cold, drought, salinity, high light intensity Phosphoprotein cascades, activation of transcription factors and stress-responsive genes, activation of antioxidative defence Reviewed in Foyer and Noctor 2005aAhmad et al. 2008
  1. It is not comprehensive but gives an insight in the complex cellular signalling network and the resultant metabolic reactions.