Speciation and identification of tellurium-containing metabolites in garlic, Allium sativum
Tellurium (Te) is a widely used metalloid in industry because of its unique chemical and physical properties. However, information about the biological and toxicological activities of Te in plants and animals is limited. Although Te is expected to be metabolized in organisms via the same pathway as sulfur and selenium (Se), no precise metabolic pathways are known in organisms, particularly in plants. To reveal the metabolic pathway of Te in plants, garlic, a well-known Se accumulator, was chosen as the model plant. Garlic was hydroponically cultivated and exposed to sodium tellurate, and Te-containing metabolites in the water extract of garlic leaves were identified using HPLC coupled with inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) or electrospray tandem mass spectrometry (ESI-MS-MS). At least three Te-containing metabolites were detected using HPLC-ICP-MS, and two of them were subjected to HPLC-ESI-MS-MS for identification. The MS spectra obtained by ESI-MS-MS indicated that the metabolite was Te-methyltellurocysteine oxide (MeTeCysO). Then, MeTeCysO was chemically synthesized and its chromatographic behavior matched with that of the Te-containing metabolite in garlic. The other was assigned as cysteine S-methyltellurosulfide. These results suggest that garlic can assimilate tellurate, an inorganic Te compound, and tellurate is transformed into a Te-containing amino acid, the so-called telluroamino acid. This is the first report addressing that telluroamino acid is de novo synthesized in a higher plant.
- This article is part of the themed collection: Plant Metallomics