Localization of nickel in the hyperaccumulator plant Breynia cernua (Poir.) Mull.Arg. discovered in the nickeliferous laterites of Zambales, the Philippines

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A newly discovered nickel (Ni) hyperaccumulator plant, Breynia cernua (Phyllanthaceae) from the nickeliferous laterites of Acoje, Zambales, has elevated Ni concentrations. Its computed bioaccumulation factor is 1.7 and the translocation factor is 4.6. Leaf tissues which contain the highest Ni concentrations were analyzed using optical microscopy and Scanning Electron Microscopy with Energy-Dispersive X-ray (SEM/EDX). The results indicated that most of the Ni are stored in the epidermal cells of the leaves, followed by the mesophyll cells then the vascular bundles. The accumulation of Ni found in the subcellular locations, probably in the vacuoles, may prevent phytotoxicity that could affect the normal function of other cellular structures. A possible resistance mechanism through strain avoidance towards Ni accumulation makes B. cernua capable of tolerating elevated Ni concentrations in its tissues. The tolerance of B. cernua to Ni phytotoxicity suggests possible applications of this hyperaccumulator plant in phytoextraction technology.