The ‘europium anomaly’ in plants: facts and fiction

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

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)
16 Downloads (Pure)


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 REE concentrations and normalized REE patterns in soil systems and plants are rapidly increasing.
A normalized REE pattern allows for the recognition of 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).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)721-728
Number of pages8
JournalPlant and Soil
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2021


  • artefact
  • isobaric correction
  • interference
  • ICP-MS
  • Europium anomaly
  • REEs
  • FAIR guiding principles


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