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Sci Rep. 2017 Feb 23;7:43170. doi: 10.1038/srep43170.

A novel role for methyl cysteinate, a cysteine derivative, in cesium accumulation in Arabidopsis thaliana.

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RIKEN Center for Sustainable Resource Science, 1-7-22 Suehiro-cho, Tsurumi-ku, Yokohama, Kanagawa 230-0045, Japan.
MEMPHYS, Center for BioMembrane Physics, University of Southern Denmark, Campusvej 55, Odense M 5230, Denmark.
Graduate School of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Tsukuba, 1-1-1 Ten-noudai, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-8572, Japan.
Graduate School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Chiba University, Chiba 260-8675, Japan.


Phytoaccumulation is a technique to extract metals from soil utilising ability of plants. Cesium is a valuable metal while radioactive isotopes of cesium can be hazardous. In order to establish a more efficient phytoaccumulation system, small molecules which promote plants to accumulate cesium were investigated. Through chemical library screening, 14 chemicals were isolated as 'cesium accumulators' in Arabidopsis thaliana. Of those, methyl cysteinate, a derivative of cysteine, was found to function within the plant to accumulate externally supplemented cesium. Moreover, metabolite profiling demonstrated that cesium treatment increased cysteine levels in Arabidopsis. The cesium accumulation effect was not observed for other cysteine derivatives or amino acids on the cysteine metabolic pathway tested. Our results suggest that methyl cysteinate, potentially metabolised from cysteine, binds with cesium on the surface of the roots or inside plant cells and improve phytoaccumulation.

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