Pteris vittata is an arsenic (As) hyperaccumulator plant that accumulates a large amount of As into fronds and rhizomes (around 16,000 mg/kg in both after 16 weeks hydroponic cultivation with 30 mg/L arsenate). However, the sequence of long-distance transport of As in this hyperaccumulator plant is unclear. In this study, we used a positron-emitting tracer imaging system (PETIS) for the first time to obtain noninvasive serial images of As behavior in living plants with positron-emitting 74As-labeled tracer. We found that As kept accumulating in rhizomes as in fronds of P. vittata, whereas As was retained in roots of a non-accumulator plant Arabidopsis thaliana. Autoradiograph results of As distribution in P. vittata showed that with low As exposure, As was predominantly accumulated in young fronds and the midrib and rachis of mature fronds. Under high As exposure, As accumulation shifted from young fronds to mature fronds, especially in the margin of pinna, which resulted in necrotic symptoms, turning the marginal color to gray and then brown. Our results indicated that the function of rhizomes in P. vittata was As accumulation and the regulation of As translocation to the mature fronds to protect the young fronds under high As exposure.
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