Mechanistic study of arsenic uptake, transformation and tolerance in arsenic hyperaccumulator Pteris vittata

Weihua Zhang, Florida International University


Pteris vittata, the first reported arsenic hyperaccumulating plant, is potentially used in phytoremediation of arsenic, as it can accumulate up to 2.3% of arsenic in its fronds. In this study, the mechanisms of arsenic tolerance, uptake and transformation were studied in the plant. Arsenic species were analyzed by HPLC-AFS. Results showed that arsenic was mainly accumulated in leaflets, and inorganic arsenate and arsenite were only species in P. vittata. Arsenite was the predominant species in leaflets, whereas arsenate was the predominant species in roots. Arsenic induced the synthesis of thiol containing compounds in P. vittata. As-induced thiol was purified by a novel method: covalent chromatography following preparative HPLC. The purified thiol was characterized as a phytochelatin with two units (PC2). In P. vittata, enhanced tolerance likely results from unusual intracellular detoxification mechanisms. Although PC-dependent sequestration of arsenic into vacuoles is essential for nonhyperaccumulators, this sequestration is not the major arsenic tolerance mechanisms in this arsenic hyperaccumulator. PC-independent sequestration of arsenic is likely the major arsenic tolerance mechanism. PC-dependent arsenic detoxification is probably a supplement to this major mechanism. Interactions between arsenic and phosphate were studied. Under hydroponic condition, arsenic supply decreased the concentrations of phosphate in roots. In soil, arsenic increased the concentrations of phosphate in roots. Arsenic concentrations in rachises and leaflets were not affected by arsenic supply in either hydroponic or soil system. Phosphate decreased arsenic accumulation in roots, rachises and leaflets in the hydroponic system. The uptake kinetics of arsenate, arsenite, monomethyl arsinic acid (MMA), dimethyl arsonic acid, and phosphate were studied in P. vittata. Phosphate uptake systems in Pteris vittata cannot distinguish phosphate and As(V), resulting in As hyperaccumulation. Arsenic hyperaccumulation in this plant is an inevitable consequence during phosphate acquisition. Arsenate, arsenite and MMA are transported via the phosphate uptake systems. The co-transport of arsenite/phosphate and MMA/phosphate is reported for the first time in plants. These unique phenomena are useful for understanding arsenic hyperaccumulation and the evolution of this capacity in P. vittata.

Subject Area

Biochemistry|Environmental science|Botany

Recommended Citation

Zhang, Weihua, "Mechanistic study of arsenic uptake, transformation and tolerance in arsenic hyperaccumulator Pteris vittata" (2004). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI3151968.