Response to lead pollution: mycorrhizal Pinus sylvestris forms the biomineral pyromorphite in roots and needles
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The development of mycorrhized pine seedlings grown in the presence of lead was assessed in order to investigate how higher plants can tolerate lead pollution in the environment. Examination with scanning electron microscopy (SEM) revealed that Pb uptake was prominent in the roots, while a smaller amount was found in pine needles, which requires symplastic uptake and root-to-shoot transfer. Lead was concentrated in nanocrystalline aggregates attached to the cell wall and, according to elemental microanalyses, is associated with phosphorus and chlorine. The identification of the nanocrystalline phase in roots and needles was performed by transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and synchrotron X-ray micro-diffraction (μ-XRD), revealing the presence of pyromorphite, Pb5[PO4]3(Cl, OH), in both roots and needles. The extracellular embedding of pyromorphite within plant cell walls, featuring an indented appearance of the cell wall due to a callus-like outcrop of minerals, suggests a biogenic origin. This biomineralization is interpreted as a defense mechanism of the plant against lead pollution.
KeywordsBiomineralization Pyromorphite Diffraction Electron microscopy Lead pollution Mycorrhiza
We gratefully acknowledge the support of the excellence graduate school GSC 214 Jena School for Microbial Communication. FL thanks the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft for the award of the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz price (LA 830/14-1).
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