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Accumulation and distribution of zinc in the leaves and roots of the hyperaccumulator Noccaea caerulescens

Dinh, Ngoc T., Vu, Dang T., Mulligan, David, Nguyen, Anh V.
Environmental and experimental botany 2015 v.110 pp. 85-95
Noccaea caerulescens, Thlaspi arvense, biomass, calcium, cortex, crystals, energy-dispersive X-ray analysis, greenhouses, heavy metals, hydroponics, hyperaccumulators, ions, leaves, phytoremediation, polluted soils, roots, scanning electron microscopy, shoots, toxicity, uptake mechanisms, zinc
Understanding the uptake mechanisms of heavy metals by hyperaccumulators is necessary for improving phytoextraction options to reduce metal toxicities in contaminated soils. In this study, the capacity of Zn uptake by the hyperaccumulator Noccaea caerulescens was investigated and compared to the non-hyperaccumulator Thlaspi arvense. The plants were grown under hydroponic conditions in a glasshouse. The distribution of Zn in the roots and leaves of these species was investigated by scanning electron microscopy with energy-dispersive X-ray analysis. Compared with the control with no Zn added, it was shown that prolonged Zn treatments decreased the biomass of both N. caerulescens and T. arvense. Since N. caerulescens requires Zn for growth, no Zn toxicity symptoms were observed, even when the Zn concentration in shoots reached 2.5% dry mass. T. arvense showed serious Zn toxicity only after two weeks of Zn treatment. Zn uptake by N. caerulescens was mainly translocated to the leaves while almost all of the Zn taken-up by T. arvense was retained in the roots. In N. caerulescens, increasing concentration of Zn in the supply decreased Ca and P concentrations in the shoots by up to 50 and 35%, respectively. Zn-containing crystals were abundant in both the upper and lower epidermal cells of the leaves and in the cortex of the roots during the later growth phase. Co-localization of Ca and Zn, P and S were found in leaf and root tissues. The results suggest that Zn-rich crystals with an abundance of the Zn ligand in the roots and shoots, and co-localization and interaction between Zn and other ions, may have functional significance with respect to conferring particular attributes to N. caerulescens that are not present in the non-hyperaccumulator counterpart. An understanding of these species-specific differences has relevance from the perspective of offering some insight into how particular species could contribute to a strategy for the detoxification of Zn-contaminated sites.