Investigating the foliar uptake of zinc from conventional and nano-formulations: a methodological study

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CSIRO Publishing
Zinc (Zn) deficiency affects half of the world’s arable soil and one-third of the world’s human population. Application of Zn foliar fertilisers to cereal crops can be an effective way to increase grain Zn content; however, commonly used formulations can scorch the leaf (e.g. soluble Zn salts) or are prohibitively expensive (e.g. chelated Zn, ZnEDTA). Zinc oxide nanoparticles (ZnO-NPs) may offer an efficient and cost-effective alternative, but little is known regarding the mechanisms of Zn uptake and translocation within the plant. Foliar-applied Zn is analytically challenging to detect, locate and quantify, as it is omnipresent. Furthermore, any single analytical technique does not have the detection limit or spatial resolution required. In this study, the uptake and mobility of foliar-applied ZnEDTA, ZnO-NPs and ZnO microparticles (ZnO-MPs) to wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) were investigated using inductively coupled plasma mass spectroscopy (ICP-MS), synchrotron-based X-ray fluorescence microscopy (XFM) and radiotracing techniques using 65Zn-labelled formulations. The three techniques were compared to highlight limitations and advantages of each. We also report, for the first time, a novel time-resolved in vivo autoradiography imaging technique that can be used to visualise 65Zn in live plants treated with foliar applications of 65ZnO-NPs and MPs. The images were supplemented by gamma spectroscopy analysis for quantification. The results of this study provide important insights into the analytical challenges faced when investigating foliar-applied Zn nanofertilisers in plants. Potential solutions using nuclear techniques are also discussed, which in turn may ultimately lead to the development of more efficient foliar fertilisers. © CSIRO 2019
Wheat, Leaves, Translocation, Detection, Zinc, Nanoparticles, Nanotechnology, Foliar uptake
Read, T. L., Doolette, C. L., Cresswell, T., Howell, N. R., Aughterson, R., Karatchevtseva, I., Donner, E., Kopittke, P. M., Schjoerring, J. K. & Lombi, E. (2019). Investigating the foliar uptake of zinc from conventional and nano-formulations: a methodological study. Environmental Chemistry, 16(6), 459-469. doi:10.1071/en19019