Regular Article

Plant and Soil

, Volume 352, Issue 1, pp 217-231

First online:

Fe isotope fractionation caused by translocation of iron during growth of bean and oat as models of strategy I and II plants

  • Monika Guelke-StellingAffiliated withLeibniz Universität Hannover, Institute for MineralogyKarlsruhe Institute for Technology (KIT), Institute for Mineralogy & Geochemistry Email author 
  • , Friedhelm von BlanckenburgAffiliated withLeibniz Universität Hannover, Institute for MineralogyGFZ German Center for Geosciences Potsdam

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The determination of the plant-induced Fe-isotopic fractionation is a promising tool to better quantify their role in the geochemical Fe cycle and possibly to identify the physiological mechanisms of Fe uptake and translocation in plants. Here we explore the isotope fractionation caused by translocation of Fe during growth of bean and oat as representatives of strategy I and II plants.


Plants were grown on a nutrient solution supplemented with Fe(III)-EDTA and harvested at three different ages. We used the technique of multi-collector ICP-MS to resolve the small differences in the stable iron isotope compositions of plants.


Total bean plants, regardless of their age, were found to be enriched in the light iron isotopes by −1.2‰ relative to the growth solution throughout. During growth plants internally redistributed isotopes where young leaves increasingly accumulated the lighter isotopes whereas older leaves and the total roots were simultaneously depleted in light iron isotopes. Oat plants were also enriched in the light iron isotopes but during growth the initial isotope ratio maintained in all organs at all growth stages.


We conclude that isotope fractionation in bean as a representative of strategy I plants is a result of translocation or re-translocation processes. Furthermore we assume that both uptake and translocation of Fe in oat maintains the irons’ ferric state, or that Fe is always bound to high-mass ligands, so that isotope fractionation is virtually absent in these plants. However, in contrast to our previous study in which strategy II plants were grown on soil substrate, oat plants grown on Fe(III)-EDTA contain iron that enriches 54Fe by 0.5 permil over 56Fe. A possible explanation for the enrichment is the prevalence of a constitutive reductive uptake mechanism of iron in the nutrient solution used which is non-deficient in iron.


Fe isotopes Higher plants Isotope fractionation Fe translocation in plant