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Soil contamination with toxic metalloids, such as arsenic, can represent a substantial human health and environmental risk. Some plants are thought to tolerate soil toxicity using root exudation, however, the nature of this response to arsenic remains largely unknown. Here, white lupin plants were exposed to arsenic in a semi-hydroponic system and their exudates were profiled using untargeted liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry. Arsenic concentrations up to 1 ppm were tolerated and led to the accumulation of 12.9 μg As g-1 dry weight (DW) and 411 μg As g-1 DW in above-ground and belowground tissues, respectively. From 193 exuded metabolites, 34 were significantly differentially abundant due to 1 ppm arsenic, including depletion of glutathione disulphide and enrichment of phytochelatins and coumarins. Significant enrichment of phytochelatins in exudates of arsenic-treated plants was further confirmed using exudate sampling with strict root exclusion. The chemical tolerance toolkit in white lupin included nutrient acquisition metabolites as well as phytochelatins, the major intracellular metal-binding detoxification oligopeptides which have not been previously reported as having an extracellular role. These findings highlight the value of untargeted metabolite profiling approaches to reveal the unexpected and inform strategies to mitigate anthropogenic pollution in soils around the world. © 2021 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


Adrien Frémont, Eszter Sas, Mathieu Sarrazin, Emmanuel Gonzalez, Jacques Brisson, Frédéric Emmanuel Pitre, Nicholas James Beresford Brereton. Phytochelatin and coumarin enrichment in root exudates of arsenic-treated white lupin. Plant, cell & environment. 2022 Mar;45(3):936-954

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PMID: 34392550

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