Uptake, distribution, and velocity of organically complexed plutonium in corn (Zea mays).
ABSTRACT Lysimeter experiments and associated simulations suggested that Pu moved into and through plants that invaded field lysimeters during an 11-year study at the Savannah River Site. However, probable plant uptake and transport mechanisms were not well defined, so more detailed study is needed. Therefore, experiments were performed to examine movement, distribution, and velocity of soluble, complexed Pu in corn. Corn was grown and exposed to Pu using a "long root" system in which the primary root extended through a soil pot and into a hydroponic container. To maintain solubility, Pu was complexed with the bacterial siderophore DFOB (Desferrioxamine B) or the chelating agent DTPA (diethylenetriaminepentaacetic acid). Corn plants were exposed to nutrient solutions containing Pu for periods of 10 min to 10 d. Analysis of root and shoot tissues permitted concentration measurement and calculation of uptake velocity and Pu retardation in corn. Results showed that depending on exposure time, 98.3-95.9% of Pu entering the plant was retained in the roots external to the xylem, and that 1.7-4.1% of Pu entered the shoots (shoot fraction increased with exposure time). Corn Pu uptake was 2-4 times greater as Pu(DFOB) than as Pu(2)(DTPA)(3). Pu(DFOB) solution entered the root xylem and moved 1.74 m h(-1) or greater upward, which is more than a million times faster than Pu(III/IV) downward movement through soil during the lysimeter study. The Pu(DFOB) xylem retardation factor was estimated to be 3.7-11, allowing for rapid upward Pu transport and potential environmental release.