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Stable Zn isotopes are fractionated in roots and leaves of plants. Analyses demonstrate that the heavy Zn isotopes are enriched in the root system of plants with respect to shoots and leaves as well as the host soil, but the fractionation mechanisms remain unclear. Here we show that the origin of this isotope fractionation is due to a chemical isotope effect upon complexation by Zn malates and citrates in the aerial parts and by phosphates in the roots. We calculated the Zn isotope effect in aqueous citrates, malates, and phosphates by ab initio methods. For pH<5, the Zn isotopic compositions of the various parts of the plants are expected to be similar to those of groundwater. In the neutral to alkaline region, the calculations correctly predict that (66)Zn is enriched over (64)Zn in roots, which concentrate phosphates, with respect to leaves, which concentrate malates and citrates, by about one permil. It is proposed that Zn isotope fractionation represents a useful tracer of Zn availability and mobility in soils.

Citation

Toshiyuki Fujii, Francis Albar├Ęde. Ab initio calculation of the Zn isotope effect in phosphates, citrates, and malates and applications to plants and soil. PloS one. 2012;7(2):e30726

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PMID: 22363478

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