Ecology of Hyperaccumulation
Metal-hyperaccumulating plants translocate exceptionally high concentrations of metals from the root-soil interface and sequester those metals in above ground tissues (David and Boyd, 1999).


Evolutionary Significance




Biomagnification in the food chain


Pilon-Smits Lab





1. Hyperaccumulation describes a plant with abnormally high levels of metal accumulation.

2. Hyperaccumulation of metals such as Nickel, Zinc, Cadmium, Lead, Cobalt, Copper, Magnesium, Chromium and Selenium have been discovered by researchers.

3. Various economical applications benefit from hyperaccumulating plants such as toxicology, phytochemistry, mineral explorations, phytoarcheology, and phytoremediation.

4. Hyperaccumulating plants also tend to be more tolerant of metal concentrations that are toxic to most plants.

5. Total hyperaccumulation plants species known: 318 spanning 37 different families: Euphorbiaceae (83), Brassicaceae (82), Asteraceae (27), Flacourtiaceae (19), Buxaceae (17) and Rubiaceae (12) (Raskin and Ensley, 2000). The other 78 species from 31 different families are widely distributed throughout the plant kingdom.

6. Because of the wide distribution of hyperaccumulation plants throughout the plant kingdom, it is thought that hyperaccumulation has evolved independently many times (Whiting et al, 2003)

Brittney G. Hufford

BZ 572-Phytoremediation

Professor Pilon-Smits

Colorado State University

November 2004