Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry

, Volume 402, Issue 10, pp 3287-3298

First online:

Functional characterisation of metal(loid) processes in planta through the integration of synchrotron techniques and plant molecular biology

  • Erica DonnerAffiliated withCentre for Environmental Risk Assessment and Remediation, University of South AustraliaCRC CARE Email author 
  • , Tracy PunshonAffiliated withDepartment of Biological Sciences, Dartmouth College Email author 
  • , Mary Lou GuerinotAffiliated withDepartment of Biological Sciences, Dartmouth College
  • , Enzo LombiAffiliated withCentre for Environmental Risk Assessment and Remediation, University of South Australia

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


Functional characterisation of the genes regulating metal(loid) homeostasis in plants is a major focus for phytoremediation, crop biofortification and food security research. Recent advances in X-ray focussing optics and fluorescence detection have greatly improved the potential to use synchrotron techniques in plant science research. With use of methods such as micro X-ray fluorescence mapping, micro computed tomography and micro X-ray absorption near edge spectroscopy, metal(loids) can be imaged in vivo in hydrated plant tissues at submicron resolution, and laterally resolved metal(loid) speciation can also be determined under physiologically relevant conditions. This article focuses on the benefits of combining molecular biology and synchrotron-based techniques. By using molecular techniques to probe the location of gene expression and protein production in combination with laterally resolved synchrotron techniques, one can effectively and efficiently assign functional information to specific genes. A review of the state of the art in this field is presented, together with examples as to how synchrotron-based methods can be combined with molecular techniques to facilitate functional characterisation of genes in planta. The article concludes with a summary of the technical challenges still remaining for synchrotron-based hard X-ray plant science research, particularly those relating to subcellular level research.

Elemental distribution in Arabidopsis seeds collected by synchrotron micro-XRF


X-ray fluorescence Tomography Speciation Functional genomics Plants Metals