The arsenic (As) hyperaccumulating fern species Pteris vittata (PV) is capable of accumulating large quantities of As in its aboveground tissues. Transformation to AsIII and vacuolar sequestration is believed to be the As detoxification mechanism in PV. Here we present evidence for a preponderance of exocellular As in fronds of Pteris vittata despite numerous reports of a tolerance mechanism involving intracellular compartmentalization. Results of an extraction experiment show that 43–71% of the As extruded out of the fronds of PV grown in 0.67, 3.3 and 6.7mM AsV. SEM-EDX analysis showed that As was localized largely on the lower pinna surface, with smaller amounts on the upper surface, as crystalline deposits. X-ray fluorescence imaging of pinna cross-sections revealed preferential localization of As on the pinna surface in the proximity of veins, with the majority localized near the midrib. Majority of the As in the pinnae is contained in the apoplast rather than vacuoles. Our results provide evidence that exocellular sequestration is potentially a mechanism of As detoxification in PV, particularly at higher As concentrations, raising concern about its use for phytoremediation.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/huan-feng/6/