Copper Isotope Fractionation by Desert Shrubs


Copper has two naturally occurring stable isotopes of masses 63 and 65 which can undergo mass dependent fractionation during various biotic and abiotic chemical reactions. These interactions and their resulting Cu isotope fractionations can be used to determine the mechanisms involved in the cycling of Cu in natural systems. In this study, Cu isotope changes were investigated at the organismal level in the metal-accumulating desert plant, Prosopis pubescens. Initial results suggest that the lighter Cu isotope was preferentially incorporated into the leaves of the plant, which may suggest that Cu was actively transported via intracellular proteins. The roots and stems show a smaller degree of Cu isotope fractionation and the direction and magnitude of the fractionations was dependent upon the levels of Cu exposure. Based on this and previous work with bacteria and yeast, a trend is emerging that suggests the lighter Cu isotope is preferentially incorporated into biological components, while the heavier Cu isotope tends to become enriched in aqueous solutions. In bacteria, plants and animals, intracellular Cu concentrations are strictly regulated via dozens of enzymes that can bind, transport, and store Cu. Many of these enzymes reduce Cu(II) to Cu(I). These initial results seem to fit into a broader picture of Cu isotope cycling in natural systems where oxidation/reduction reactions are fundamental in controlling the distributions of Cu isotopes.


Geosciences and Geological and Petroleum Engineering

Keywords and Phrases

Aqueous solutions; Biological components; Intracellular proteins; Isotope fractionation; Natural systems; Naturally occurring; Pubescens; Stable isotopes; Animals; Bacteria; Bacteriology; Catalysts; Enzymes; Fractionation; Landforms; Isotopes; bacterium; bioaccumulation; copper; desert; enzyme activity; isotopic analysis; isotopic fractionation; magnitude; protein; shrub; stable isotope; yeast; Animalia; Prosopis pubescens

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Article - Journal

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© 2011 Elsevier, All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Jun 2011