Cadmium (Cd) is a prevalent, non-essential, carcinogenic, and hazardous heavy metal that reduces plant productivity and capacity of arable land area around the globe. In the present substrate-based pot study, seedlings of Brassica napus 180015 were grown equidistantly in the spiked-substrate medium for 60 days under increasing concentrations of Cd (0, 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 mg kg⁻¹). Following harvest, the morpho-physio-biochemical, antioxidative, and Cd-induced tolerance responses were evaluated in B. napus under an increasing Cd stress regime. Additionally, these parameters were also investigated to select the plant's threshold tolerance limit for Cd under the spiked-substrate system. B. napus showed dynamic behavior regarding morpho-physio-biochemical attributes, including agronomic features, biomass, photosynthetic pigments, relative water content under increased Cd toxicity. Cd stress-induced hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) production with high MDA contents and passive EL, followed by the orchestration of both enzymatic (SOD, POD, APX, CAT, and GR) and non-enzymatic antioxidants (flavonoids, TPC, TPA, proline, and total soluble protein) up to a certain limit. In addition, Cd-induced stress upregulated transcriptional levels of antioxidative enzyme SOD, POD, APX, GR, and MT encoded genes in B. napus. The increasing trend of Cd accumulation in different tissues at the highest Cd concentration was as follows: root > leaf > stem. In spiked substrate system, B. napus demonstrated improved metal extractability performance and a high potential for phyto-management of low to moderate Cd contamination, implying that this study could be used for integrative breeding programs and decontaminating heavy metals in real contaminated scenarios.
This study provides an insight into Cd-coping mechanisms of oilseed rape involved in alleviating toxicity and simultaneous phyto-management of increasing Cd concentration under spiked substrate system. The current study is the first scientific evidence of using a Cd-spiked soilless substrate medium. The present study will further strengthen our understanding of Cd-instigated positive responses in B. napus. Furthermore, it will provide a useful basis for integrative breeding programs and decontaminating heavy metals in real contaminated scenarios.