Subcellular localization of cadmium in roots and leaves of Arabidopsis thaliana


Author for correspondence: Frank Van Belleghem Tel: +32 11 268330 Fax: +32 11 268301 Email:


  • • We examined the subcellular cadmium (Cd) localization in roots and leaves of wild-type Arabidopsis thaliana (ecotype Columbia) exposed to environmentally relevant Cd concentrations.
  • • Energy-dispersive X-ray microanalysis (EDXMA) was performed on high-pressure frozen and freeze-substituted tissues.
  • • In the root cortex, Cd was associated with phosphorus (Cd/P) in the apoplast and sulfur (Cd/S) in the symplast, suggesting phosphate and phytochelatin sequestration, respectively. In the endodermis, sequestration of Cd/S was present as fine granular deposits in the vacuole and as large granular deposits in the cytoplasm. In the central cylinder, symplastic accumulation followed a distinct pattern illustrating the importance of passage cells for the uptake of Cd. In the apoplast, a shift of Cd/S granular deposits from the middle lamella towards the plasmalemma was observed. Large amounts of precipitated Cd in the phloem suggest retranslocation from the shoot. In leaves, Cd was detected in tracheids but not in the mesophyll tissue.
  • • Extensive symplastic and apoplastic sequestration in the root parenchyma combined with retranslocation via the phloem confirms the excluder strategy of Arabidopsis thaliana.