The detection, quantification, and imaging of short-lived reactive oxygen species, such as superoxide, in live biological specimens have always been challenging and controversial. Fluorescence-based methods are nonspecific, and electron spin resonance (ESR) spin-trapping methods require high probe concentrations and lack the capability for sufficient image resolution. In this work, a novel (to our knowledge), sensitive, small ESR imaging resonator was used together with a stable spin probe that specifically reacts with superoxide with a high reaction rate constant. This ESR spin-probe-based methodology was used to examine superoxide generated in a plant root as a result of an apical leaf injury. The results show that the spin probe rapidly permeated the plant's extracellular space. Upon injury of the plant tissue, superoxide was produced and the ESR signal decreased rapidly in the injured parts as well as in the distal part of the root. This is attributed to superoxide production and thus provides a means of quantifying the level of superoxide in the plant. The spin probe's narrow single-line ESR spectrum, together with the sensitive imaging resonator, facilitates the quantitative measurement of superoxide in small biological samples, such as the plant's root, as well as one-dimensional imaging along the length of the root. This type of methodology can be used to resolve many questions involving the production of apoplastic superoxide in plant biology.
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