Identification and quantification of phytochelatins in roots of rice to long-term exposure: evidence of individual role on arsenic accumulation and translocation

Bruno Lemos Batista, Meher Nigar, Adrien Mestrot, Bruno Alves Rocha, Fernando Barbosa Junior, Adam H. Price, Andrea Raab, Jörg Feldmann*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

155 Citations (Scopus)
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Rice has the predilection to take up arsenic in the form of methylated arsenic (o-As) and inorganic arsenic species (i-As). Plants defend themselves using i-As efflux systems and the production of phytochelatins (PCs) to complex i-As. Our study focused on the identification and quantification of phytochelatins by HPLC-ICP-MS/ESI-MS, relating them to the several variables linked to As exposure. GSH, 11 PCs, and As–PC complexes from the roots of six rice cultivars (Italica Carolina, Dom Sofid, 9524, Kitrana 508, YRL-1, and Lemont) exposed to low and high levels of i-As were compared with total, i-As, and o-As in roots, shoots, and grains. Only Dom Sofid, Kitrana 508, and 9524 were found to produce higher levels of PCs even when exposed to low levels of As. PCs were only correlated to i-As in the roots (r=0.884, P <0.001). However, significant negative correlations to As transfer factors (TF) roots–grains (r= –0.739, P <0.05) and shoots–grains (r= –0.541, P <0.05), suggested that these peptides help in trapping i-As but not o-As in the roots, reducing grains’ i-As. Italica Carolina reduced i-As in grains after high exposure, where some specific PCs had a special role in this reduction. In Lemont, exposure to elevated levels of i-As did not result in higher i-As levels in the grains and there were no significant increases in PCs or thiols. Finally, the high production of PCs in Kitrana 508 and Dom Sofid in response to high As treatment did not relate to a reduction of i-As in grains, suggesting that other mechanisms such as As–PC release and transport seems to be important in determining grain As in these cultivars.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1467-1479
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Experimental Botany
Issue number6
Early online date5 Mar 2014
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2014

Bibliographical note

The authors kindly thank the Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo (FAPESP 2010/07566-1) and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) for funding the Element 2 to complete the speciation suite.


  • arsenic transfer factor
  • arsenic uptake
  • ESI-MS
  • phytochelatins
  • rice
  • heavy-metal detoxification
  • holcus-lanatus
  • helianthus-annuus
  • oxidative stress
  • plant-growth
  • paddy rice
  • arabidopsis
  • metabolism
  • speciation
  • tolerance


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