Jump to main content
Jump to site search
PLANNED MAINTENANCE Close the message box

Scheduled maintenance work on Wednesday 27th March 2019 from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM (GMT).

During this time our website performance may be temporarily affected. We apologise for any inconvenience this might cause and thank you for your patience.

Issue 1, 2011
Previous Article Next Article

Review: The role of atomic spectrometry in plant science

Author affiliations


Inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) is the state-of-the-art technique for multi-elemental analysis of plant tissue. It provides a powerful tool in functional genomics, linking altered elemental profiles of mutants with gene expression and function. In addition, with its unmatched sensitivity, ICP-MS enables characterization of the substrate specificity and regulation of membrane transport proteins. Digestion of plant tissue has traditionally represented a bottleneck due to the low capacity of commercially available equipment. However, recent developments in micro-scaled digestion, combined with semi-quantitative analysis and chemometrics, have enabled high-throughput multi-elemental profiling and multivariate classification of large sample sets, thereby supporting a range of new applications in molecular breeding, quality assessment and authenticity testing of plants. Novel hyphenated techniques based on liquid chromatography and ICP-MS (LC-ICP-MS) have significantly improved the understanding of elemental species and their importance for e.g. the bioactivity of metals in plants. Development of procedures for sample pre-treatment, extraction and multi-dimensional separation now allows characterization of important metallo-biomolecules in plants, such as the coordination complexes of phytochelatins, metallothioneins, nicotianamine and inositol phosphates. These are key ligands involved in ion homeostasis, translocation and long-term storage of elements. Much emphasis has also been given to studies of covalently bound Se and As species, primarily due to their impact on human health. LC-ICP-MS has extensively been complemented by molecular mass spectrometry for structural information of biologically relevant species. This review covers the most recent developments in multi-elemental analysis (Part A) and speciation analysis (Part B) in plant science. A number of relevant cases are presented in order to demonstrate how the analytical developments have unravelled the functional roles of elements in plants science. These cases show that ICP-MS is an essential technology in plant metallomic platforms.

Graphical abstract: Review: The role of atomic spectrometry in plant science

  • This article is part of the themed collection: Speciation
Back to tab navigation

Publication details

The article was received on 28 Jun 2010, accepted on 03 Nov 2010 and first published on 01 Dec 2010

Article type: Critical Review
DOI: 10.1039/C0JA00058B
Citation: J. Anal. At. Spectrom., 2011,26, 52-79

  •   Request permissions

    Review: The role of atomic spectrometry in plant science

    S. Husted, D. P. Persson, K. H. Laursen, T. H. Hansen, P. Pedas, M. Schiller, J. N. Hegelund and J. K. Schjoerring, J. Anal. At. Spectrom., 2011, 26, 52
    DOI: 10.1039/C0JA00058B

Search articles by author