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Agronomy 2015, 5(3), 447-463;

Heavy Metals in Crop Plants: Transport and Redistribution Processes on the Whole Plant Level

Institute of Plant Sciences, University of Bern, Altenbergrain 21, CH-3013 Bern, Switzerland
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Gareth Norton
Received: 25 June 2015 / Revised: 27 August 2015 / Accepted: 1 September 2015 / Published: 9 September 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Accumulation and Distribution of Elements in Crop Plants)
PDF [928 KB, uploaded 9 September 2015]


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. View Full-Text
Keywords: heavy metals; micronutrients; pollutants; transport; xylem; phloem; redistribution heavy metals; micronutrients; pollutants; transport; xylem; phloem; redistribution

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Page, V.; Feller, U. Heavy Metals in Crop Plants: Transport and Redistribution Processes on the Whole Plant Level. Agronomy 2015, 5, 447-463.

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