Elemental distribution and chemical speciation of copper and cobalt in three metallophytes from the copper–cobalt belt in Northern Zambia†
Three metallophyte species, Persicaria capitata, P. puncata (Polygonaceae), Conyza cordata (Asteraceae) from mineral wastes in the Zambian copper–cobalt belt were studied. This study focused on the elemental distribution in the roots, stems and leaves, using a range of techniques: micro-PIXE, SEM-EDS synchrotron XFM and XAS. The species differed in their responses to growing on Co–Cu-enriched soils: Persicaria puncata is a Co hyperaccumulator (up to 1060 μg g−1 in leaves), while Persicaria capitata and Conyza cordata are Co-excluders. All three species are Cu-accumulators. The highest concentrations of Cu–Co are in the epidermal cells, whereas in Persicaria puncata Co was also enriched in the phloem. The Co coordination chemistry shows that an aqueous Co(II)–tartrate complex was the predominant component identified in all plants and tissues, along with a minor component of a Co(III) compound with oxygen donor ligands. For Cu, there was considerable variation in the Cu speciation in the various tissues and across the three species. In contrast to hyperaccumulator plants, excluder and accumulator type plants have received far less attention. This study highlights the different biopathways of transition elements (Cu, Co) in hyper-tolerant plant species showing different responses to metalliferous environments.
- This article is part of the themed collection: Phytometallomics