Synchrotron micro-scale study of trace metal transport and distribution in Spartina alterniflora root system in Yangtze River intertidal zone

Huan Feng, Weiguo Zhang, Wenliang Liu, Lizhong Yu, Yu Qian, Jun Wang, Jia Jun Wang, Christopher Eng, Chang Jun Liu, Keith W. Jones, Ryan Tappero

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This study is focused on micro-scale measurement of metal (Ca, Cl, Fe, K, Mn, Cu, Pb, and Zn) distributions in Spartina alterniflora root system. The root samples were collected in the Yangtze River intertidal zone in July 2013. Synchrotron X-ray fluorescence (XRF), computed microtomography (CMT), and X-ray absorption near-edge structure (XANES) techniques, which provide micro-meter scale analytical resolution, were applied to this study. Although it was found that the metals of interest were distributed in both epidermis and vascular tissue with the varying concentrations, the results showed that Fe plaque was mainly distributed in the root epidermis. Other metals (e.g., Cu, Mn, Pb, and Zn) were correlated with Fe in the epidermis possibly due to scavenge by Fe plaque. Relatively high metal concentrations were observed in the root hair tip. This micro-scale investigation provides insights of understanding the metal uptake and spatial distribution as well as the function of Fe plaque governing metal transport in the root system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18933-18944
Number of pages12
JournalEnvironmental Science and Pollution Research
Issue number23
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2015



  • Rhizosphere root system
  • Spartina alterniflora
  • Synchrotron radiation technique
  • Trace metals
  • Transport
  • Yangtze River estuary

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