Plant Science

Coping with Heavy Metal

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Science  13 Jun 2008:
Vol. 320, Issue 5882, pp. 1397
DOI: 10.1126/science.320.5882.1397b

Cadmium seems to be useless to plants but manages to hitchhike its way into plant cells through transporters used to import iron, calcium, and zinc. Various processes serve to sequester and thus detoxify cadmium; plants contaminated by cadmium are an unfortunate source of heavy metal in human and animal diets. Dutilleul et al. find that the expression of selenium-binding proteins was increased in Arabidopsis seedlings after exposure to cadmium, and the overexpression of the selenium-binding proteins served to protect Arabidopsis from the toxic effects of high levels of cadmium. Binding studies indicate direct interactions between cadmium and selenium-binding protein, the function of which in the normal unstressed plant remains unclear. Better insight into how plants deal with toxic metals could contribute to developing plants that are able to detoxify soils or to reducing trace toxicity in the food chain. — PJH

Plant Physiol. 147, 239 (2008).

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