Phytochelatin Synthesis Promotes Leaf Zn Accumulation of Arabidopsis thaliana Plants Grown in Soil with Adequate Zn Supply and is Essential for Survival on Zn-Contaminated Soil

Tanja Kühnlenz, Christian Hofmann, Shimpei Uraguchi, Holger Schmidt, Stefanie Schempp, Michael Weber, Brett Lahner, David E Salt, Stephan Clemens

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25 Citations (Scopus)


Phytochelatin (PC) synthesis is essential for the detoxification of non-essential metals such as cadmium (Cd). In vitro experiments with Arabidopsis thaliana seedlings had indicated a contribution to zinc (Zn) tolerance as well. We addressed the physiological role of PC synthesis in Zn homeostasis of plants under more natural conditions. Growth responses, PC accumulation and leaf ionomes of wild-type and AtPCS1 mutant plants cultivated in different soils representing adequate Zn supply, Zn deficiency and Zn excess were analyzed. Growth on Zn-contaminated soil triggers PC synthesis and is strongly impaired in PC-deficient mutants. In fact, the contribution of AtPCS1 to tolerating Zn excess is comparable with that of the major Zn tolerance factor MTP1. For plants supplied with a normal level of Zn, a significant reduction in leaf Zn accumulation of AtPCS1 mutants was detected. In contrast, AtPCS1 mutants grown under Zn-limited conditions showed wild-type levels of Zn accumulation, suggesting the operation of distinct Zn translocation pathways. Contrasting phenotypes of the tested AtPCS1 mutant alleles upon growth in Zn- or Cd-contaminated soil indicated differential activation of PC synthesis by these metals. Experiments with truncated versions identified a part of the AtPCS1 protein required for the activation by Zn but not by Cd.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2342-2352
Number of pages11
JournalPlant and cell physiology
Issue number11
Early online date1 Oct 2016
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2016


  • arabidopsis thaliana
  • cadmium
  • metal homeostasis
  • metal tolerance
  • micronutrients
  • zinc

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