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J Chromatogr B Analyt Technol Biomed Life Sci. 2008 Jan 1;861(1):123-9. Epub 2007 Nov 17.

An HPLC-ICP-MS technique for determination of cadmium-phytochelatins in genetically modified Arabidopsis thaliana.

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Department of Chemistry, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH 45221-0172, USA.


A reversed-phase high-performance liquid chromatographic technique was developed to separate cadmium-phytochelatin complexes (Cd-PC2, Cd-PC3, and Cd-PC4) of interest in the plant Arapidopsis thaliana. High-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) was coupled to an inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometric (ICP-MS) system with some modification to the interface. This was done in order to sustain the plasma with optimum sensitivity for cadmium detection in the presence of the high methanol loads used in the gradient elution of the reversed-phase separation. The detection limits were found to be 91.8 ngl(-1), 77.2 ngl(-1) and 49.2 ngl(-1) for Cd-PC2, Cd-PC3, and Cd-PC4 respectively. The regression coefficients (r2) for Cd-PC2 to Cd-PC4 detection ranged from 0.998 to 0.999. The method was then used to investigate the occurrence and effect of cadmium-phytochelatin complexes in wild-type Arabidopsis and a phytochelatin-deficient mutant cad1-3 that had been genetically modified to ectopically express the wheat TaPCS1 phytochelatin synthase enzyme. The primary complex found in both wild-type and transgenic plants was Cd-PC2. In both lines, higher levels of Cd-PC2 were found in shoots than in roots, showing that phytochelatin synthases contribute to the accumulation of cadmium in shoots, in the Cd-PC2 form. Genetic modification did, however, impact the overall accumulation of Cd. Transgenic plants contained almost two times more cadmium in the form of Cd-PC2 in their roots than did the corresponding wild-type plants. Similarly, the shoot samples of the modified species also contained more (by 1.6 times) cadmium in the form of Cd-PC2 than the wild type. The enhanced role of PC2 in the transgenic Arabidopsis correlates with data showing long-distance transport of Cd in transgenic plants. Targeted transgenic expression of non-native phytochelatin synthases may contribute to improving the efficiency of plants for phytoremediation.

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