, Volume 17, Issue 6, pp 669–689 | Cite as

Aluminium cycling in the soil-plant-animal-human continuum

  • Z. Rengel


A critical review of the literature on Al toxicity in plants, animals and humans reveals a similar mode of Al action in all living organisms, namely interference with the secondary messenger system (phosphoinositide and cytosolic Ca2+ signalling pathways) and enhanced production of reactive oxygen species resulting in oxidative stress. Aluminium uptake by plants is relatively quick (across the intact plasma membrane in < 30 min and across the tonoplast in < 1 h), despite huge proportion of Al being bound in the cell wall. Aluminium absorption in the animal/human digestive system is low (only about 0.1% of daily Al intake stays in the human body), except when Al is complexed with organic ligands (eg. citrate, tartarate, glutamate). Aluminium accumulates in bones and brain, with Al-citrate and Al-transferrin complexes crossing the blood-brain barrier and accumulating in brain cells. Tea plant and other Al-accumulator plant species contain large amounts of Al in the form of non-toxic organic complexes.


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Z. Rengel
    • 1
  1. 1.Soil Science and Plant Nutrition, School of Earth and Geographical SciencesThe University of Western Australia, CrawleyPerthAustralia

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