Metal Hyperaccumulation in Plants
Adaptation, elemental defense, evolution, heavy metal, metal homeostasis, natural diversity
During the history of life on Earth, tectonic and climatic change repeatedly generated large territories that were virtually devoid of life and exhibited harsh environmental conditions. The ability of a few specialist pioneer plants to colonize such hostile environments was thus of paramount ecological importance for the continuous maintenance of primary production over time. Yet, we know very little about how extreme traits evolve and function in plants. Recent breakthroughs have given first insights into the molecular basis underlying the complex extreme model trait of metal hyperaccumulation and associated metal hypertolerance. This review gives an introduction into the hyperaccumulator research field and its history; provides an overview of hyperaccumulator germplasm; describes the state of the art of our understanding of the physiological, molecular, and genetic basis underlying metal hyperaccumulation and its evolution; and highlights future research needs and opportunities.