Regular Article

Plant and Soil

, Volume 367, Issue 1, pp 591-603

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Cadmium uptake kinetics and plants factors of shoot Cd concentration

  • Christos StritsisAffiliated withDepartment of Crop Sciences, Plant Nutrition, Georg August University of Göttingen Email author 
  • , Norbert ClaassenAffiliated withDepartment of Crop Sciences, Plant Nutrition, Georg August University of Göttingen


Background and aims

Accumulation of Cd in the shoots of plants grown on Cd contaminated soils shows considerable variation. A previous preliminary experiment established that one major reason for this variation was the rate of Cd influx into the roots (mol Cd cm−2 root s−1). However, this experiment did not distinguish between solubilization of soil Cd on the one hand and difference in Cd uptake kinetics on the other. The main objectives of the present study were thus to characterize Cd uptake kinetics of plants continuously exposed to Cd concentrations similar to those encountered in soils. Furthermore we determined the factors responsible for differences in shoot Cd concentration such as net Cd influx, root area-shoot dry weight ratio, shoot growth rate and proportion of Cd translocated to the shoot.

Materials and methods

Maize, sunflower, flax and spinach were grown in nutrient solution with five constant Cd concentrations varying from 0 to 1.0 μmol L−1. Root and shoot parameters as well as Cd uptake were determined at two harvest dates and from these data Cd net influx and shoot growth rates were calculated.

Results and conclusions

Cadmium uptake kinetics, i.e. the net Cd influx vs. Cd solution concentration followed a straight line. Its slope is the root absorbing power, α, \( \left( {\alpha ={{{\mathrm{Cd}\;\mathrm{net}\;\mathrm{influx}}} \left/ {{\mathrm{Cd}\;\mathrm{solution}\;\mathrm{concentration}}} \right.}} \right) \). The α values of spinach and flax were about double that of maize and sunflower (5 × 10−6 cm s−1 vs. 2.5 × 10−6 cm s−1). Spinach and flax had a 3–5 times higher shoot Cd concentration than maize and sunflower. The difference in shoot Cd concentration was partly due to the higher Cd influx but also to a higher translocation of Cd from root to shoot and also to a slower shoot growth rate.


Net Cd influx Shoot Cd concentration Cd translocation Root surface area Root absorbing power Nutrient solution