Copper, zinc, manganese, iron, nickel and molybdenum are essential micronutrients for plants. However, when present in excess they may damage the plant or decrease the quality of harvested plant products. Some other heavy metals such as cadmium, lead or mercury are not needed by plants and represent pollutants. The uptake into the roots, the loading into the xylem, the acropetal transport to the shoot with the transpiration stream and the further redistribution in the phloem are crucial for the distribution in aerial plant parts. This review is focused on long-distance transport of heavy metals via xylem and phloem and on interactions between the two transport systems. Phloem transport is the basis for the redistribution within the shoot and for the accumulation in fruits and seeds. Solutes may be transferred from the xylem to the phloem (e.g., in the small bundles in stems of cereals, in minor leaf veins). Nickel is highly phloem-mobile and directed to expanding plant parts. Zinc and to a lesser degree also cadmium are also mobile in the phloem and accumulate in meristems (root tips, shoot apex, axillary buds). Iron and manganese are characterized by poor phloem mobility and are retained in older leaves.
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