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Journal Articles Environmental Science and Technology Year : 2008

Formation of Metallic Copper Nanoparticles at the Soil−Root Interface


Copper is an essential element in the cellular electron-transport chain, but as a free ion it can catalyze production of damaging radicals. Thus, all life forms attempt to prevent copper toxicity. Plants diminish excess copper in two structural regions: rare hyperaccumulators bind cationic copper to organic ligands in subaerial tissues, whereas widespread metal-tolerant plants segregate copper dominantly in roots by mechanisms thought to be analogous. Here we show using synchrotron microanalyses that common wetlands plants Phragmites australis and Iris pseudoacorus can transform copper into metallic nanoparticles in and near roots with evidence of assistance by endomycorrhizal fungi when grown in contaminated soil in the natural environment. Biomolecular responses to oxidative stress, similar to reactions used to abiotically synthesize Cu0 nanostructures of controlled size and shape, likely cause the transformation. This newly identified mode of copper biomineralization by plant roots under copper stress may be common in oxygenated environments.

Dates and versions

insu-00334972 , version 1 (28-10-2008)



Alain Manceau, K. L. Nagy, Matthew A. Marcus, Martine Lanson, Nicolas Geoffroy, et al.. Formation of Metallic Copper Nanoparticles at the Soil−Root Interface. Environmental Science and Technology, 2008, 42 (5), pp.1766 à 1772. ⟨10.1021/es072017o⟩. ⟨insu-00334972⟩
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