In this work three heavy metals: cadmium (as CdSO4), cobalt (as CoCl2) and zinc (as ZnSO4), were used to determine and compare their toxicity towards two subspecies of barley (Hordeum vulgare subsp. vulgare L. and Hordeum vulgare subsp. distichum L.), focusing on seeds germination, seedlings growth, and cytological parameters. The results indicate that the effect of these heavy metals depends on the metal kind, the metal concentrations and the plant subspecies. Generally, in the case of H. vulgare, the heavy metal salts understudy did not influence significantly seed germination and seedling growth parameters. However, these metal salts influence significantly these parameters for H. distichum. The cytological test showed significant decrease (p < 0.05) in the mitotic index among the increase of the heavy metal concentrations when evaluated with the control for H. vulgare and H. distichum. Consequently, H. vulgare seemed to be more tolerant of the increase of the three heavy metals concentrations than H. distichum.
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