Cadmium contamination in rice crops

Cadmium is a harmful element due to its toxicity and long half-life time in human bodies. It is an extremely toxic industrial and environmental pollutant classified as a human carcinogen. Cereals are indeed the major sources of cadmium for humans and, in particular, rice, a staple food in several Asian countries, is a particularly high source of this heavy metal.

To reduce cadmium concentrations in rice, the mechanisms that determine its availability from soil to plants, its plant uptake and its transport processes need to be well understood. The present study, resulting from a scientific collaboration involving young researchers among international institutions and large scale facilities between France, Switzerland, Italy, Spain and Japan (the University of Grenoble Alpes, the ETH Zurich institute, the Okayama University, the Ente italiano Nazionale Risi and the ALBA and Soleil synchrotrons), aims to enlighten these mechanisms.

Cadmium usually binds to sulfur, getting immobilized, and the bindings with sulfur is the major driving force for cadmium isotope fractionation (when the isotopic composition of an element of a given compound changes by the transition of that compound from one physical state or chemical composition to another).

The results of this research show how soil flooding in the rice crops not only changed the cadmium speciation in the solid soils but also in soil-aqueous solutions, while vacuolar transport includes the dissociation of heavy cadmium isotopes from a sulfur donor atoms prior to membrane transport and storage in the vacuole. All these findings allow a better tracing of contaminant elements in the complex soil-plant system and permit to asset about final product toxicity when those plants are source of human food.

Read more on the ALBA website

Image: rice crops

Hummus for cows?

Identifying the best chickpea crops for cattle feed

While hummus used to be an exotic spread enjoyed only in the Middle East, it has become a staple in grocery stores throughout the world. Recently, the savory dish has gained popularity amongst a new fan base: herds of cows.

As chickpea production increases around the world, those crops not suitable for human consumption are being recycled into cattle feed as a partial replacement for soybean meal and cereal grains, explained Dr. Peiqiang Yu, a professor with the University of Saskatchewan (USask). “However, until now there was limited information about the nutritional values for this newly developed chickpea as ruminant feed,” he said.

In a recent study, Yu and colleagues showed that the Canadian Light Source (CLS) at USask can effectively image the molecular structure of chickpea seeds to determine which varieties have the highest nutritional value and would best serve as a feed for beef and dairy cattle.

Read more on the Canadian Light Source website

Image: Synchrotron techniques can offer insights into which chickpea crops will perform best before they are produced on a mass scale for cattle.

Credit: Canadian Light Source