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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Potassium and Calcium Isotopic Fractionation by Plants (Soybean [ Glycine max], Rice [ Oryza sativa], and Wheat [ Triticum aestivum])

  • Author(s): Christensen, JN;
  • Qin, L;
  • Brown, ST;
  • Depaolo, DJ
  • et al.

We conducted hydroponic experiments growing soybean (Glycine max), rice (Oryza sativa), and wheat (Triticum aestivum) under K and Ca replete conditions to establish the degree of K isotopic fractionation by plants, and compare the isotopic fractionation of Ca and K. Each of the test plants displays fractionation relative to the growth solution favoring the light isotopes of K and Ca. The average δ41K values of the roots from the three plant species were similar, and have an overall average of -0.55 ± 0.24‰ 2s, while the overall average δ44Ca for roots is -0.67 ± 0.44. For leaves, the overall average of δ41K is -0.97 ± 0.4‰, compared to an overall average leaf δ44Ca of -0.83 ± 0.09‰. In the case of the soybean plants, the lightest K and Ca occurs in the stems with average δ41K of -1.31 ± 0.40‰ 2s and average δ44Ca of -1.20 ± 0.19 ‰ 2s. We present a simple box model involving the relative fluxes of K and its isotopic fractionation that reproduces our K isotopic observations and suggests a fractionation of ∼0.8‰ with K uptake from solution by roots. Directly comparing the per amu fractionation of K and Ca reveals an average factor of 2.05 ± 0.50 2s greater fractionation of K isotopes which may reflect their different roles and behaviors in plants.

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