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Germanium Accumulation and Toxicity in Barley

Authors:

Halperin, S.; Barzilay, A.; Carson, M.; Roberts, C.; Lynch, J.

Source:

JOURNAL OF PLANT NUTRITION, Volume 18, Issue 7, p.1417-1426 (1995)

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Abstract:

The accumulation of germanium (Ge) by barley (Hordeum vulgare cv. 'Arivat') grown at various Ge and pH levels was investigated because Ge is an industrially important metal and bioaccumulation of Ge is a potentially useful means of concentrating this trace metal. Six-day-old barley seedlings were grown in perlite and nutrient solution adjusted to a pH of 4.5, 6.0, or 7.5 supplemented with 20, 40, 60, or 80 mu M Ge for seven days. The plants were divided into roots and shoots after harvesting; the dry weight and Ge content of the individual organs were measured, as was the peroxidase activity in the distal 1 cm of the primary leaves. Barley seedlings accumulated Ge in the roots and shoots; the shoots accumulated Ge linearly as medium Ge concentration increased. The dry weight of the organs was not affected, although necrosis was observed in the primary leaves of the seedlings treated with Ge concentrations greater than 20 mu M. Peroxidase activity in the primary leaves also increased as the Ge levels in the medium increased which indicated that elevated levels of Ge stimulated leaf senescence. These results demonstrate that barley plants can take up Ge and suggest that Ge is not toxic at the levels that might occur in areas where Ge is normally mined