Toxicity of Selenium

  • Raymond J. Shamberger
Part of the Biochemistry of the Elements book series (BOTE, volume 2)


Selenium is present at least in trace amounts in all soils and in all natural feeds and its occurrence is not restricted to any specific area of the earth. Some soils contain an excess of selenium in forms which are available to plants. In this case plants absorb the selenium in amounts that make them toxic to animals. In some other cases the selenium is in a form which is not available to plants. The soils and plants with large available amounts of selenium have been referred to as “seleniferous” or “indicator plants,” which implies excessive levels of the element. Rosenfeld and Beath (1964) have divided the indicator plants into two categories. According to their classification the first category was called primary indicators and included over 20 species of Astragalus (1000 ppm Se) Machaeranthera, Oonoposis (800 ppm Se), Haplopappus, Zylorhiza (120 ppm Se), and Stanleya (700 ppm Se) which appear to require selenium for their growth. High levels of selenium normally accumulate in these species, sometimes as much as several thousand parts per million.


Succinic Dehydrogenase Sodium Selenite Indicator Plant Selenium Compound Sodium Selenate 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • Raymond J. Shamberger
    • 1
  1. 1.The Cleveland Clinic FoundationClevelandUSA

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