Plant and Soil

, Volume 361, Issue 1–2, pp 241–250 | Cite as

Zinc fluxes into developing barley grains: use of stable Zn isotopes to separate root uptake from remobilization in plants with contrasting Zn status

  • Josefine Nymark Hegelund
  • Pai Pedas
  • Søren Husted
  • Michaela Schiller
  • Jan Kofod SchjoerringEmail author
Regular Article


Background and Aims

Zn imported into developing cereal grains originates from either de novo Zn uptake by the roots or remobilization of Zn from vegetative tissues. The present study was focused on revealing the quantitative importance of the two pathways for grain Zn loading and how their relative contribution varies with the overall plant Zn status.


The stable isotope 67Zn was used to trace Zn uptake and remobilization fluxes in barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) plants growing in hydroponics at 0.1 μM (low Zn), 1.5 μM (medium Zn) or 5 μM Zn (high Zn). When grain development reached 15 days after pollination the Zn source was changed to an enriched 67Zn isotope and plants were harvested after 6 to 48 h. Zn concentrations and isotope ratios were determined using Inductively Coupled Plasma-Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS).


Plants with low Zn status absorbed 3-fold more Zn than plants with medium or high Zn status when roots were exposed to an external concentration of 1.5 μM 67Zn. Stems and ears were the primary recipients of the de novo incorporated Zn with preferential allocation to the developing grains over time. The leaves received in all cases a very small proportion (<5 %) of the newly absorbed Zn and the proportion did not increase over time. Zn fluxes derived from uptake and remobilization were almost equal in plants with low Zn status, while at high Zn status remobilization delivered 4 times more Zn to the developing grains than did root Zn uptake.


Stable isotopes in combination with ICP-MS provided a strong tool for quantification of Zn fluxes in intact plants. The importance of Zn remobilization compared to de novo root absorption of Zn increased with increasing plant Zn status. Very little de novo absorbed Zn was translocated to the leaves during generative growth stages.


Barley Grain ICP-MS Remobilization Stable isotope labelling Zinc 



This work is supported by the Danish Strategic Research Council (NUTRIEFFICIENT; grant no. 10-093498) and The Danish Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries (DFFE).

Supplementary material

11104_2012_1272_MOESM1_ESM.doc (48 kb)
Fig. S1 Sequential dilutions of the molar ratio between the isotopes of 66Zn and 67Zn. The total molar content of 66Zn and 67Zn in mixtures of standard Zn and the enriched 67Zn isotope were prepared to fit an abundance of 67Zn ranging from 1:4 (22) to 1:8192 (212) compared to that of 66Zn. The theoretical shift in the 67Zn/66Zn ratio was compared to that obtained experimentally by elemental analysis using ICP-MS. The linear regression equation was y = 1.07x with an R-value of 0.999 showing high agreement between the theoretical and measured values of Rm(67/66) (DOC 48 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Josefine Nymark Hegelund
    • 1
  • Pai Pedas
    • 1
  • Søren Husted
    • 1
  • Michaela Schiller
    • 1
  • Jan Kofod Schjoerring
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Plant and Soil Science Section, Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, Faculty of ScienceUniversity of CopenhagenFrederiksbergDenmark

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