Arsenic as a food chain contaminant: mechanisms of plant uptake and metabolism and mitigation strategies

Fang-Jie Zhao, Steve P. McGrath, Andrew A. Meharg

Research output: Contribution to journalLiterature reviewpeer-review

1001 Citations (Scopus)


Arsenic (As) is an environmental and food chain contaminant. Excessive accumulation of As, particularly inorganic arsenic (As-i), in rice (Oryza sativa) poses a potential health risk to populations with high rice consumption. Rice is efficient at As accumulation owing to flooded paddy cultivation that leads to arsenite mobilization, and the inadvertent yet efficient uptake of arsenite through the silicon transport pathway. Iron, phosphorus, sulfur, and silicon interact strongly with As during its route from soil to plants. Plants take up arsenate through the phosphate transporters, and arsenite and undissociated methylated As species through the nodulin 26-like intrinsic (NIP) aquaporin channels. Arsenate is readily reduced to arsenite in planta, which is detoxified by complexation with thiol-rich peptides such as phytochelatins and/or vacuolar sequestration. A range of mitigation methods, from agronomic measures and plant breeding to genetic modification, may be employed to reduce As uptake by food crops.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)535-559
Number of pages25
JournalAnnual Review of Plant Biology
Early online date25 Jan 2010
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2010


  • arsenic biogeochemistry
  • arsenic speciation
  • arsenic methylation
  • arsenic toxicity
  • rice oryza-sativa
  • hyperaccumulator pteris-vittata
  • sunflower helianthus-annuus
  • intrinsic protein family
  • mustard brassica-juncea
  • market basket survey
  • holcus-lanatus
  • phytochelatin synthase
  • arabidopsis-thaliana
  • Indian mustard


Dive into the research topics of 'Arsenic as a food chain contaminant: mechanisms of plant uptake and metabolism and mitigation strategies'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this