Spatially-resolved localization and chemical speciation of nickel and zinc in Noccaea tymphaea and Bornmuellera emarginata†
Hyperaccumulator plants present the ideal model system for studying the physiological regulation of the essential (and potentially toxic) transition elements nickel and zinc. This study used synchrotron X-ray Fluorescence Microscopy (XFM) elemental imaging and spatially resolved X-ray Absorption Spectroscopy (XAS) to elucidate elemental localization and chemical speciation of nickel and zinc in the hyperaccumulators Noccaea tymphaea and Bornmuellera emarginata (synonym Leptoplax emarginata). The results show that in the leaves of N. tymphaea nickel and zinc have contrasting localization, and whereas nickel is present in vacuoles of epidermal cells, zinc occurs mainly in the mesophyll cells. In the seeds Ni and Zn are similarly localized and strongly enriched in the cotyledons in N. tymphaea. Nickel is strongly enriched in the tip of the radicle of B. emarginata. Noccaea tymphaea has an Fe-rich provascular strand network in the cotyledons of the seed. The chemical speciation of Ni in the seeds of N. tymphaea is unequivocally associated with carboxylic acids, whereas Zn is present as the phytate complex. The spatially resolved spectroscopy did not reveal any spatial variation in chemical speciation of Ni and Zn within the N. tymphaea seed. The dissimilar ecophysiological behaviour of Ni and Zn in N. tymphaea and B. emarginata raises questions about the evolution of hyperaccumulation in these species.