Radiocesium accumulation in Egeria densa, a submerged plant – possible mechanism of cesium absorption
Radioactive cesium (Cs) was discharged into the environment in the northeast region of Japan after destruction of the nuclear power station in March 2011. In this work, we study the uptake and accumulation of Cs in a freshly submerged vascular plant, Egeria densa (Brazilian waterweed, Hydrocharitaceae), to investigate the behavior of Cs in the aquatic ecosystem and to predict the movement of the radionuclide to remove this Cs from the environment. We collected plants, waters, and sediments that had been contaminated by radioactive fallout in Fukushima Prefecture in September 2012. The activities of 134Cs, 137Cs, and 40K were measured using a germanium semiconductor detector. We found that the endogenous radioactive Cs concentrations in plants were correlated with those in the sediments. To discuss the uptake mechanism of Cs, stable 133Cs was applied separately to shoots and roots in a two-compartment bath. The results showed that the environmental Cs transferred to both shoot and root parts in plants. To analyze the detailed localization of Cs in plants, synchrotron radiation-based micro X-ray fluorescence (SR-μ-XRF) analysis was performed for the plants cultivated in a hydroponic medium containing 133Cs. The two-dimensional metal distribution of leaves was determined by μ-XRF with approximately 0.7 μm X-ray beams. The distribution showed the predominant localization of Cs, K as well as several divalent metals in the cell wall or apoplastic regions, suggesting the possible absorption mechanism of Cs in the plants. We concluded that E. densa plays an important role in the deposition of radioactive Cs in fresh water.