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Plant Physiol. 2011 Jun;156(2):913-24. doi: 10.1104/pp.111.173088. Epub 2011 Apr 13.

High-resolution secondary ion mass spectrometry reveals the contrasting subcellular distribution of arsenic and silicon in rice roots.

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Department of Materials, University of Oxford, Oxford OX1 3PH, United Kingdom.


Rice (Oryza sativa) takes up arsenite mainly through the silicic acid transport pathway. Understanding the uptake and sequestration of arsenic (As) into the rice plant is important for developing strategies to reduce As concentration in rice grain. In this study, the cellular and subcellular distributions of As and silicon (Si) in rice roots were investigated using high-pressure freezing, high-resolution secondary ion mass spectrometry, and transmission electron microscopy. Rice plants, both the lsi2 mutant lacking the Si/arsenite efflux transporter Lsi2 and its wild-type cultivar, with or without an iron plaque, were treated with arsenate or arsenite. The formation of iron plaque on the root surface resulted in strong accumulation of As and phosphorous on the epidermis. The lsi2 mutant showed stronger As accumulation in the endodermal vacuoles, where the Lsi2 transporter is located in the plasma membranes, than the wild-type line. As also accumulated in the vacuoles of some xylem parenchyma cells and in some pericycle cells, particularly in the wild-type mature root zone. Vacuolar accumulation of As is associated with sulfur, suggesting that As may be stored as arsenite-phytochelatin complexes. Si was localized in the cell walls of the endodermal cells with little apparent effect of the Lsi2 mutation on its distribution. This study reveals the vacuolar sequestration of As in rice roots and contrasting patterns of As and Si subcellular localization, despite both being transported across the plasma membranes by the same transporters.

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