Seasonal differences in trace element concentrations and distribution in Spartina alterniflora root tissue

Huan Feng, Yu Qian, J. Kirk Cochran, Qingzhi Zhu, Christina Heilbrun, Li Li, Wen Hu, Hanfei Yan, Xiaojing Huang, Mingyuan Ge, Evgeny Nazareski, Yong S. Chu, Shinjae Yoo, Xuebin Zhang, Chang Jun Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


The present study uses nanometer-scale synchrotron X-ray nanofluorescence to investigate season differences in concentrations and distributions of major (Ca, K, S and P) and trace elements (As, Cr, Cu, Fe and Zn) in the root system of Spartina alterniflora collected from Jamaica Bay, New York, in April and September 2015. The root samples were cross-sectioned at a thickness of 10 μm. Selected areas in the root epidermis and endodermis were mapped with a sampling resolution of 100 and 200 nm, varying with the mapping areas. The results indicate that trace element concentrations in the epidermis and endodermis vary among the elements measured, possibly because of their different chemical properties or their ability to act as micronutrients for the plants. Elemental concentrations (As, Ca, Cr, Cu, Fe, K, P, S and Zn) within each individual root sample and between the root samples collected during two different seasons are both significantly different (p < 0.01). Furthermore, this study indicates that the nonessential elements (As and Cr) are significantly correlated (p < 0.01) with Fe, with high concentrations in the root epidermis, while others are not, implying that Fe may be a barrier to nonessential element transport in the root system. Hierarchy cluster analysis shows two distinct groups, one including As, Cr and Fe and the other the rest of the elements measured. Factor analysis also indicates that the processes and mechanisms controlling element transport in the root system can be different between the nutrient and nonessential elements.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)359-370
Number of pages12
StatePublished - Aug 2018


  • Metal uptake
  • Nanoanalysis
  • Porewater
  • Spartina alterniflora
  • Synchrotron XRF
  • Trace elements


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