The ‘europium anomaly’ in plants: facts and fiction

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Olivier Pourret , Antony van der Ent , Andrew Hursthouse , Dasapta Erwin Irawan, Haiyan Liu, Oliver Wiche


Rare earth elements (REEs) and normalized REE patterns determined in plant and soil samples represent powerful tools to trace biogeochemical processes during weathering, soil genesis and processes in the rhizosphere, and thus publications reporting rare earth elements and normalized REE patterns in soil systems and plants are rapidly increasing.
A normalized REE pattern allows for the recognition of an anomalous concentrations of an individual REE. In the literature anomalies are predominantly reported/focused for/on the redox-sensitive elements cerium (Ce) and europium (Eu) that can shift their oxidation state during interactions with organic and inorganic soil phases and the biological processes affecting their mobility in soil and uptake by plants. Thus positive Eu anomalies in plants are often interpreted as a consequence of reduction of Eu3+ to Eu2+ in the rhizosphere followed by a preferential uptake of Eu2+.
Due to an analytical artefact in ICP-MS analysis, a false Eu anomaly may be reported. This can be avoided by using a barium (Ba) interference correction. We draw attention to the possibility of this problem and to being aware of its potential occurrence when Eu anomalies are reported
We recommend (i) including information on how this potential problem was dealt with in the Materials and Methods section of articles and (ii) how to implement Findable Accessible Interoperable and Reusability (FAIR) guiding principles in that section (including data availability in an open repository).



Biogeochemistry, Earth Sciences, Geochemistry, Life Sciences, Plant Sciences


Artifact, Isobaric Correction, Europium anomaly, Interference, REEs


Published: 2021-09-08 11:27

Last Updated: 2021-10-27 12:36

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