Microscopic processes ruling the bioavailability of Zn to roots of euphorbia pithyusa L. Pioneer plant

Daniela Medas, Giovanni De Giudici, Maria Antonietta Casu, Elodia Musu, Alessandra Gianoncelli, Antonella Iadecola, Carlo Meneghini, Elena Tamburini, Anna Rosa Sprocati, Katarzyna Turnau, Pierfranco Lattanzi

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Euphorbia pithyusa L. was used in a plant growth-promoting assisted field trial experiment. To unravel the microscopic processes at the interface, thin slices of E. pithyusa roots were investigated by micro-X-ray fluorescence mapping. Roots and rhizosphere materials were examined by X-ray absorption spectroscopy at the Zn K-edge, X-ray diffraction, and scanning electron microscopy. Results indicate some features common to all the investigated samples. (i) In the rhizosphere of E. pithyusa, Zn was found to exist in different phases. (ii) Si and Al are mainly concentrated in a rim at the epidermis of the roots. (iii) Zn is mostly stored in root epidermis and does not appear to be coordinated to organic molecules but mainly occurs in mineral phases such as Zn silicates. We interpreted that roots of E. pithyusa significantly promote mineral evolution in the rhizosphere. Concomitantly, the plant uses Si and Al extracted by soil minerals to build a biomineralization rim, which can capture Zn. This Zn silicate biomineralization has relevant implications for phytoremediation techniques and for further biotechnology development, which can be better designed and developed after specific knowledge of molecular processes ruling mineral evolution and biomineralization processes has been gained.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1400 - 1408
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 3 Feb 2015
Externally publishedYes


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry

Cite this

Medas, D., De Giudici, G., Casu, M. A., Musu, E., Gianoncelli, A., Iadecola, A., ... Lattanzi, P. (2015). Microscopic processes ruling the bioavailability of Zn to roots of euphorbia pithyusa L. Pioneer plant. Environmental Science and Technology, 49(3), 1400 - 1408. https://doi.org/10.1021/es503842w