Journal Article

Plant uptake of radiocaesium: a review of mechanisms, regulation and application

Y‐G. Zhu and E. Smolders

in Journal of Experimental Botany

Published on behalf of Society for Experimental Biology

Volume 51, issue 351, pages 1635-1645
Published in print October 2000 | ISSN: 0022-0957
Published online October 2000 | e-ISSN: 1460-2431 | DOI:
Plant uptake of radiocaesium: a review of mechanisms, regulation and application

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Soil contamination with radiocaesium (Cs) has a long‐term radiological impact because it is readily transferred through food chains to human beings. Plant uptake is the major pathway for the migration of radiocaesium from soil to human diet. The plant‐related factors that control the uptake of radiocaesium are reviewed. Of these, K supply exerts the greatest influence on Cs uptake from solution. It appears that the uptake of radiocaesium is operated mainly by two transport pathways on plant root cell membranes, namely the K+ transporter and the K+ channel pathway. Cationic interactions between K and Cs on isolated K‐channels or K transporters are in agreement with studies using intact plants. The K+ transporter functioning at low external potassium concentration (often <0.3 mM) shows little discrimination against Cs+, while the K+ channel is dominant at high external potassium concentration with high discrimination against Cs+. Caesium has a high mobility within plants. Although radiocaesium is most likely taken up by the K transport systems within the plant, the Cs:K ratio is not uniform within the plant. Difference in internal Cs concentration (when expressed on a dry mass basis) may vary by a factor of 20 between different plant species grown under similar conditions. Phytoremediation may be a possible option to decontaminate radiocaesium‐contaminated soils, but its major limitation is that it takes an excessively long time (tens of years) and produces large volumes of waste.

Keywords: Radiocaesium; potassium; ion competition; plant uptake; phytoremediation.

Journal Article.  7335 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Plant Sciences and Forestry

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