Micro-PIXE as a technique for studying nickel localization in leaves of the hyperaccumulator plant Alyssum lesbiacum
Krämer U., Grime GW., Smith JAC., Hawes CR., Baker AJM.
Certain terrestrial plants are able to accumulate metals such as zinc, manganese, nickel, cobalt, or copper in their above-ground biomass. The largest group of these so-called "metal hyperaccumulators" is to be found among certain species in the family Brassicaceae endemic to ultramafic soils. For example, nickel concentrations in members of the genus Alyssum can reach 3% of the leaf dry biomass. However, nickel levels in the root tissue of these plants are low, suggesting that hyperaccumulation is associated with effective metal translocation from root to shoot and sequestration of the metal in non-toxic form within the leaves. To investigate the sites of nickel localization within A. lesbiacum, leaf cross-sections were examined by nuclear microscopy using PIXE and RBS on the Oxford Scanning Proton Microprobe (SPM) with a spatial resolution of 1 μm. This paper describes the sample preparation and analysis methods and presents some preliminary results indicating that nickel is sequestered to a considerable degree within the epidermal trichomes on the leaf surface. © 1997 Elsevier Science B.V.