, Volume 104, Issue 1-3, pp 237-249
Date: 08 Jul 2010

Subcellular localization of silicon and germanium in grass root and leaf tissues by SIMS: evidence for differential and active transport

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Silicon transport and incorporation into plant tissue is important to both plant physiological function and to the influence plants have on ecosystem silica cycling. However, the mechanisms controlling this transport have only begun to be explored. In this study, we used secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS) to image concentrations of Si in root and shoot tissues of annual blue grass (Poa annua L.) and orchard grass (Dactylis glomerata L.) with the goal of identifying control points in the plant silica uptake pathway. In addition, we used SIMS to describe the distributions of germanium (Ge); the element used to trace Si in biogeochemical studies. Within root tissue, Si and Ge were localized in the suberized thick-walled region of endodermal cells, i.e. the proximal side of endodermal cells which is in close association to the casparian strip. In leaves, Si was present in the cell walls, but Ge was barely detectable. The selective localization of Si and Ge in the proximal side of endodermal cell walls of roots suggests transport control is exerted upon Si and Ge by the plant. The absence of Si in most root cell walls and its presence in the cell walls of leaves (in areas outside of the transpiration terminus) suggests modifications in the chemical form of Si to a form that favors Si complexation in the cell walls of leaf tissue. The low abundance of Ge in leaf tissue is consistent with previous studies that suggest preferential transport of Si relative to Ge.