Open Access Research article

Real-time imaging and analysis of differences in cadmium dynamics in rice cultivars (Oryza sativa) using positron-emitting107Cd tracer

Satoru Ishikawa1*, Nobuo Suzui2, Sayuri Ito-Tanabata23, Satomi Ishii2, Masato Igura1, Tadashi Abe1, Masato Kuramata1, Naoki Kawachi2 and Shu Fujimaki2

Author Affiliations

1 Soil Environment Division, National Institute for Agro-Environmental Sciences, 3-1-3 Kannondai, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-8604, Japan

2 Radiotracer Imaging Group, Medical and Biotechnological Application Division, Quantum Beam Science Directorate, Japan Atomic Energy Agency, Watanuki 1233 Takasaki, Gunma 370-1292, Japan

3 Agricultural Research Institute, Ibaraki Agricultural Center, Kamikuniicho 3402, Mito, Ibaraki 311-4203, Japan

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BMC Plant Biology 2011, 11:172  doi:10.1186/1471-2229-11-172

Published: 29 November 2011



Rice is a major source of dietary intake of cadmium (Cd) for populations that consume rice as a staple food. Understanding how Cd is transported into grains through the whole plant body is necessary for reducing rice Cd concentrations to the lowest levels possible, to reduce the associated health risks. In this study, we have visualized and quantitatively analysed the real-time Cd dynamics from roots to grains in typical rice cultivars that differed in grain Cd concentrations. We used positron-emitting107Cd tracer and an innovative imaging technique, the positron-emitting tracer imaging system (PETIS). In particular, a new method for direct and real-time visualization of the Cd uptake by the roots in the culture was first realized in this work.


Imaging and quantitative analyses revealed the different patterns in time-varying curves of Cd amounts in the roots of rice cultivars tested. Three low-Cd accumulating cultivars (japonica type) showed rapid saturation curves, whereas three high-Cd accumulating cultivars (indica type) were characterized by curves with a peak within 30 min after107Cd supplementation, and a subsequent steep decrease resulting in maintenance of lower Cd concentrations in their roots. This difference in Cd dynamics may be attributable to OsHMA3 transporter protein, which was recently shown to be involved in Cd storage in root vacuoles and not functional in the high-Cd accumulating cultivars. Moreover, the PETIS analyses revealed that the high-Cd accumulating cultivars were characterized by rapid and abundant Cd transfer to the shoots from the roots, a faster transport velocity of Cd to the panicles, and Cd accumulation at high levels in their panicles, passing through the nodal portions of the stems where the highest Cd intensities were observed.


This is the first successful visualization and quantification of the differences in whole-body Cd transport from the roots to the grains of intact plants within rice cultivars that differ in grain Cd concentrations, by using PETIS, a real-time imaging method.