Microradiography as a tool to detect heavy metal uptake in plants for phytoremediation applications

Lucia Reale*, Antonia Lai, Ida Bellucci, Anatoly Faenov, Tatiana Pikuz, Francesco Flora, Laura Spanò, Anna Poma, Tania Limongi, Libero Palladino, Antonio Ritucci, Giuseppe Tomassetti, Giovanni Petrocelli, Sergio Martellucci

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


In this paper, an application of contact microradiography with soft X-rays for detecting the uptake site of heavy metal in the whole plant leaves is investigated. The X-ray source is a laser-plasma one based on an Nd:glass laser. The soft X-ray radiation emitted from the plasma laser targets of magnesium, iron, and copper can be strongly absorbed in the leaves' regions rich in iron, magnesium, and copper. This absorbance could point to structures in the leaves where these heavy elements are found. In this work, leaves treated with copper sulfate diluted in water at 1, 2, and 5% were imaged by using a copper target, in order to evaluate differences with untreated control leaves. Our results showed that this methodology highlighted the presence of copper in the treated leaves. This new methodology should detect heavy element pollutants inside plants and it should also be a useful analytic tool in phytoremediation studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)666-674
Number of pages9
JournalMicroscopy Research and Technique
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Microradiography
  • Phytoremediation
  • Plant leaves
  • X-rays

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Histology
  • Instrumentation
  • Medical Laboratory Technology


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