, Volume 104, Issue 1–3, pp 237–249 | Cite as

Subcellular localization of silicon and germanium in grass root and leaf tissues by SIMS: evidence for differential and active transport

  • Jed P. Sparks
  • Subhash Chandra
  • Louis A. Derry
  • Mandayam V. Parthasarathy
  • Carole S. Daugherty
  • Rory Griffin


Silicon transport and incorporation into plant tissue is important to both plant physiological function and to the influence plants have on ecosystem silica cycling. However, the mechanisms controlling this transport have only begun to be explored. In this study, we used secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS) to image concentrations of Si in root and shoot tissues of annual blue grass (Poa annua L.) and orchard grass (Dactylis glomerata L.) with the goal of identifying control points in the plant silica uptake pathway. In addition, we used SIMS to describe the distributions of germanium (Ge); the element used to trace Si in biogeochemical studies. Within root tissue, Si and Ge were localized in the suberized thick-walled region of endodermal cells, i.e. the proximal side of endodermal cells which is in close association to the casparian strip. In leaves, Si was present in the cell walls, but Ge was barely detectable. The selective localization of Si and Ge in the proximal side of endodermal cell walls of roots suggests transport control is exerted upon Si and Ge by the plant. The absence of Si in most root cell walls and its presence in the cell walls of leaves (in areas outside of the transpiration terminus) suggests modifications in the chemical form of Si to a form that favors Si complexation in the cell walls of leaf tissue. The low abundance of Ge in leaf tissue is consistent with previous studies that suggest preferential transport of Si relative to Ge.


Silicon Germanium Casparian strip Secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS) High pressure freezing Freeze-substitution 



This work was supported by a National Science Foundation Grant J. Sparks (DEB–0237674), Biological and Environmental Research Program (BER), U.S. Department of Energy, Grant No. DE-FG02-91ER61138 to S. Chandra, and the Research Experience for Undergraduates program (DMR-0097494) through the Cornell Center for Materials Research (CCMR). Partial financial support from Cornell Core Facilities and NYSTAR program to S. Chandra is also acknowledged. The technical help of Dena Vallano, Shannon Caldwell, Anita Alsuisio, and Kimberlee Sparks is gratefully acknowledged. Daniel Lorey is acknowledged for the use of Photoshop in making grayscale composite photographs. Joshua Abraham is acknowledged for the use of Photoshop in making the pseudo-color image composite shown in Fig. 3.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jed P. Sparks
    • 1
  • Subhash Chandra
    • 2
  • Louis A. Derry
    • 3
  • Mandayam V. Parthasarathy
    • 4
  • Carole S. Daugherty
    • 4
  • Rory Griffin
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Ecology and Evolutionary BiologyCornell UniversityIthacaUSA
  2. 2.Cornell SIMS Laboratory, Department of Earth and Atmospheric SciencesCornell UniversityIthacaUSA
  3. 3.Department of Earth and Atmospheric SciencesCornell UniversityIthacaUSA
  4. 4.Plant Biology and Cornell Integrated Microscopy CenterCornell UniversityIthacaUSA

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