Analysis of nickel concentration profiles around the roots of the hyperaccumulator plant Berkheya coddii using MRI and numerical simulations
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Investigations of soil-root interactions are hampered by the difficult experimental accessibility of the rhizosphere. Here we show the potential of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) as a non-destructive measurement technique in combination with numerical modelling to study the dynamics of the spatial distribution of dissolved nickel (Ni2+) around the roots of the nickel hyperaccumulator plant Berkheya coddii. Special rhizoboxes were used in which a root monolayer had been grown, separated from an adjacent inert glass bead packing by a nylon membrane. After applying a Ni2+ solution of 10 mg l−1, the rhizobox was imaged repeatedly using MRI. The obtained temporal sequence of 2-dimensional Ni2+ maps in the vicinity of the roots showed that Ni2+ concentrations increased towards the root plane, revealing an accumulation pattern. Numerical modelling supported the Ni2+ distributions to result from advective water flow towards the root plane, driven by transpiration, and diffusion of Ni2+ tending to eliminate the concentration gradient. With the model, we could study how the accumulation pattern of Ni2+ in the root zone transforms into a depletion pattern depending on transpiration rate, solute uptake rate, and Ni2+ concentration in solution.
KeywordsBerkheya coddii Concentration gradient Hyperaccumulator Magnetic resonance imaging MIN3P Modelling Nickel Uptake
This study was funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation. We would like to thank Reto Treier (IBE, ETH Zurich) for his technical support on T 1 calculations.