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The Scientific World Journal
Volume 2013, Article ID 167834, 11 pages
Research Article

Tolerance to Cadmium of Agave lechuguilla (Agavaceae) Seeds and Seedlings from Sites Contaminated with Heavy Metals

1Instituto de Ingeniería y Tecnología, Universidad Autónoma de Ciudad Juárez, 32310 Ciudad Juárez, CHIH, Mexico
2División de Ciencias Ambientales, Instituto Potosino de Investigación Científica y Tecnológica, 78210 San Luis Potosí, SLP, Mexico
3Instituto de Investigación de Zonas Desérticas, Facultad de Ingeniería, Universidad Autónoma de San Luis Potosí, 78377 San Luis Potosí, SLP, Mexico

Received 28 August 2013; Accepted 30 September 2013

Academic Editors: H. M. Conesa and H. G. Rosatto

Copyright © 2013 Alejandra Méndez-Hurtado et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


We investigated if seeds of Agave lechuguilla from contaminated sites with heavy metals were more tolerant to Cd ions than seeds from noncontaminated sites. Seeds from a highly contaminated site (Villa de la Paz) and from a noncontaminated site (Villa de Zaragoza) were evaluated. We tested the effect of Cd concentrations on several ecophysiological, morphological, genetical, and anatomical responses. Seed viability, seed germination, seedling biomass, and radicle length were higher for the non-polluted site than for the contaminated one. The leaves of seedlings from the contaminated place had more cadmium and showed peaks attributed to chemical functional groups such as amines, amides, carboxyl, and alkenes that tended to disappear due to increasing the concentration of cadmium than those from Villa de Zaragoza. Malformed cells in the parenchyma surrounding the vascular bundles were found in seedlings grown with Cd from both sites. The leaves from the contaminated place showed a higher metallothioneins expression in seedlings from the control group than that of seedlings at different Cd concentrations. Most of our results fitted into the hypothesis that plants from metal-contaminated places do not tolerate more pollution, because of the accumulative effect that cadmium might have on them.