The effects of K, Ca, Mg and H ions on the kinetics of Cd uptake by the moss Rhytidiadelphus squarrosus (Hedw.) Warnst were investigated. The affinity of extracellular exchange sites for these ions decreased in the order Cd, H > Ca > Mg ≫ K and there were competitive interactions between ions. The affinity of the intracellular Cd transport site for these ions decreased in the order Ca > Cd > Mg ≫ K. Calcium was shown to be competitive and Mg a non-competitive inhibitor of intracellular Cd uptake. Intracellular Cd uptake, optimal at about pH 5.6, was highly sensitive to pH, which primarily affected the Vmax. Potassium, supplied at less than 1 mM, had no significant effect on Cd uptake. However, at concentrations greater than 1 mM, KNO3 caused both a stimulation in transport site activity and reduced affinity for Cd.
Pretreatment with KNO3 removed potentially competing ions from the cell wall, altering the subsequent chemical equilibria established when moss shoots were incubated in Cd solutions. Reduced competition from ions removed by KNO3 pretreatment resulted in a higher affinity of both transport sites and extracellular exchange sites for Cd, Ca and Mg. The results demonstrate quantitatively the regulatory effects on intracellular metal uptake of the extracellular ionic environment provided by the cell wall.