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Biometals. 2013 Aug;26(4):633-8. doi: 10.1007/s10534-013-9659-6. Epub 2013 Jul 24.

Tolerance to cadmium in plants: the special case of hyperaccumulators.

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Plant Physiology and Molecular Genetics, Faculty of Sciences, Université Libre de Bruxelles, 1050 Brussels, Belgium.


On sols highly polluted by trace metallic elements the majority of plant species are excluders, limiting the entry and the root to shoot translocation of trace metals. However a rare class of plants called hyperaccumulators possess remarkable adaptation because those plants combine extremely high tolerance degrees and foliar accumulation of trace elements. Hyperaccumulators have recently gained considerable interest, because of their potential use in phytoremediation, phytomining and biofortification. On a more fundamental point of view hyperaccumulators of trace metals are case studies to understand metal homeostasis and detoxification mechanisms. Hyperaccumulation of trace metals usually depends on the enhancement of at least four processes, which are the absorption from the soil, the loading in the xylem in the roots and the unloading from the xylem in the leaves and the detoxification in the shoot. Cadmium is one of the most toxic trace metallic elements for living organisms and its accumulation in the environment is recognized as a worldwide concern. To date, only nine species have been recognized as Cd hyperaccumulators that is to say able to tolerate and accumulate more than 0.01 % Cd in shoot dry biomass. Among these species, four belong to the Brassicaceae family with Arabidopsis halleri and Noccaea caerulescens being considered as models. An update of our knowledge on the evolution of hyperaccumulators will be presented here.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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