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Microscopic Processes Ruling the Bioavailability of Zn to Roots of Euphorbia pithyusa L. Pioneer Plant

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Department of Chemical and Geological Sciences, University of Cagliari, 09127 Cagliari, Italy
National Research Council, Institute of Translational Pharmacology, UOS of Cagliari, Scientific and Technological Park of Sardinia POLARIS, Pula, Italy
§ Sardegna Ricerche/CRS4-Telemicroscopy Lab, Scientific and Technological Park of Sardinia POLARIS, Pula, Italy
Elettra-Sincrotrone Trieste, Area Science Park, Basovizza, Trieste, Italy
Science Department, University of Roma Tre, 00146 Rome, Italy
# Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Cagliari, Cittadella Universitaria, 09042 Monserrato, Cagliari, Italy
@ Environmental Characterization, Prevention and Recovery Unit, ENEA-Casaccia, Rome, Italy
Institute of Environmental Sciences and Malopolska Centre for Biotechnology, Jagiellonian University, Gronostajowa 7, 30-387 Kraków, Poland
*Phone: +39 070 675 7720. Fax: +39 070 282236. E-mail: [email protected]
Cite this: Environ. Sci. Technol. 2015, 49, 3, 1400–1408
Publication Date (Web):January 8, 2015
Copyright © 2015 American Chemical Society

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    Euphorbia pithyusa L. was used in a plant growth-promoting assisted field trial experiment. To unravel the microscopic processes at the interface, thin slices of E. pithyusa roots were investigated by micro-X-ray fluorescence mapping. Roots and rhizosphere materials were examined by X-ray absorption spectroscopy at the Zn K-edge, X-ray diffraction, and scanning electron microscopy. Results indicate some features common to all the investigated samples. (i) In the rhizosphere of E. pithyusa, Zn was found to exist in different phases. (ii) Si and Al are mainly concentrated in a rim at the epidermis of the roots. (iii) Zn is mostly stored in root epidermis and does not appear to be coordinated to organic molecules but mainly occurs in mineral phases such as Zn silicates. We interpreted that roots of E. pithyusa significantly promote mineral evolution in the rhizosphere. Concomitantly, the plant uses Si and Al extracted by soil minerals to build a biomineralization rim, which can capture Zn. This Zn silicate biomineralization has relevant implications for phytoremediation techniques and for further biotechnology development, which can be better designed and developed after specific knowledge of molecular processes ruling mineral evolution and biomineralization processes has been gained.

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