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Curr Opin Plant Biol. 2011 Oct;14(5):554-62. doi: 10.1016/j.pbi.2011.07.004. Epub 2011 Aug 5.

Long-distance transport, vacuolar sequestration, tolerance, and transcriptional responses induced by cadmium and arsenic.

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Division of Biological Sciences, Cell and Developmental Biology Section, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093-0116, USA.


Iron, zinc, copper and manganese are essential metals for cellular enzyme functions while cadmium, mercury and the metalloid arsenic lack any biological function. Both, essential metals, at high concentrations, and non-essential metals and metalloids are extremely reactive and toxic. Therefore, plants have acquired specialized mechanisms to sense, transport and maintain essential metals within physiological concentrations and to detoxify non-essential metals and metalloids. This review focuses on the recent identification of transporters that sequester cadmium and arsenic in vacuoles and the mechanisms mediating the partitioning of these metal(loid)s between roots and shoots. We further discuss recent models of phloem-mediated long-distance transport, seed accumulation of Cd and As and recent data demonstrating that plants posses a defined transcriptional response that allow plants to preserve metal homeostasis. This research is instrumental for future engineering of reduced toxic metal(loid) accumulation in edible crop tissues as well as for improved phytoremediation technologies.

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