Cell Biology and Toxicology

, Volume 28, Issue 1, pp 57–68 | Cite as

Ultrastructure and subcellular distribution of Cr in Iris pseudacorus L. using TEM and X-ray microanalysis

  • Cristina CaldelasEmail author
  • Jordi Bort
  • Anna Febrero
Original Research


Chromium pollution of freshwater is hazardous for humans and other organisms, and places a limitation on the use of polluted water sources. Phytoremediation, the use of plants to remove pollutants from the environment, is a cost-effective, environmentally friendly approach for water decontamination. To improve the efficiency of the process, it is essential to increase the current knowledge about Cr accumulation in macrophytes. Plants of Iris pseudacorus L. were treated with Cr(III) at 0.75 mM for 5 weeks to investigate Cr localization by means of transmission electron microscopy and energy dispersive X-ray analysis. Chromium induced severe ultrastructural alterations in the rhizodermis (cell wall disorganisation, thickening, plasmolysis, and electron-dense inclusions) and rhizome parenchyma (reduced cell size, cell wall detachment, vacuolation, and opaque granules). The highest Cr contents were found in the cell walls of the cortex in the roots and in the cytoplasm and intercellular spaces of the rhizome. The Cr concentration in root tissues was in the order cortex >rhizodermis >stele, whereas in the rhizome, Cr was evenly distributed. It is proposed that root and rhizome have distinct functions in the response of I. pseudacorus to Cr. The rhizodermis limits Cr uptake by means of Si deposition and cell wall thickening. The rhizome cortex generates vacuoles and granules where Cr co-occurs with S, indicating Cr sequestration by metal-binding proteins.


Chromium Metal Rhizome Subcellular localization Ultrastructure X-ray microanalysis 



Energy dispersive X-ray analysis




Transmission electron microscopy


United States Environmental Protection Agency



This study was part of the International Cooperation European Project MEDINDUS, EC contract no INCO-CT-2004-509159. TEM and LM images were obtained in the TEM Laboratory of the University of Barcelona. X-ray microanalysis was performed in the Microscopy Service of the Autonomous University of Barcelona.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Unit of Plant Physiology, Department of Plant Biology, Faculty of BiologyUniversity of BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain

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