Nutrient metal elements in plants
Plants need many different metal elements for growth, development and reproduction, which must be mobilized from the soil matrix and absorbed by the roots as metal ions. Once taken up by the roots, metal ions are allocated to different parts of the plant by the vascular tissues. Metals are naturally present in the soil, but human activities, ranging from mining and agriculture to sewage processing and heavy industry, have increased the amount of metal pollution in the environment. Plants are challenged by environmental metal ion concentrations that fluctuate from low to high toxic levels, and have therefore evolved mechanisms to cope with such phenomena. In this review, we focus on recent data that provide insight into the molecular mechanisms of metal absorption and transport by plants, also considering the effect of metal deficiency and toxicity. We also highlight the positive effects of some non-essential metals on plant fitness.