Navigation Links
Plants in mining areas can cure soil affected by contamination in very short time

When conditions become complicated, there is no choice but to adapt to them. Plants have to do the same. Some of them growing in mining areas have unusual strengths, accustomed as they are to living in a toxic environment and knowing how to deal with this. Based on this capacity to adapt, researcher Ms Lur Epelde used these plants as medicinal herbs for contaminated soils.

The current level of contamination in the soil, caused by human intervention - is highly worrying. Nevertheless, more than the contamination as such, Ms Epelde was more interested in the effect these plants have on the health of the soil. The researcher puts forward phytoremediation as a means for confronting this problem; i.e. treating poor environments with these plants, without the need to excavate soil. Moreover, the idea is based on the microbiological properties of the soil itself to measure this technique: the mass of its microbian community, its activity and its biodiversity. The title of her PhD thesis is Evaluation of the efficiency of metal phytoremediation processes with microbiological indicators of soil health.

Technique adapted to each condition

Ms Epelde investigated, above all, pseudometalophyte plants - which grow in mining environments -, and the reaction they have to metals. To begin with, she linked Lanestosa of the thlaspi caerulescens species with zinc and cadmium. Lanestosa is a traditional mining town in the Encartaciones region near Bilbao and its namesake plant has optimum conditions for continuous phytoextraction (a process for differentiating metal from the rest of the elements). According to the research, it is capable of withstanding great concentrations of metal and also of accumulating considerable quantities of zinc and cadmium in its tissues that are in contact with the air. As with hyperaccumulator species such as this, large-sized plants are also effective. For example, sorghum has great potential for phytoextracting zinc and cadmium.

On the other hand, to phytoextract soils contaminated by lead, Ms Epelde opted for combining plants and chemistry, on the one hand using thistle (a plant of large dimensions) and, on the other, a chelating agent. She tested them with two chelating substances: EDTA and EDDS and concluded that, while EDTA is more effective for phytoextraction and less toxic for thistle plants, EDDS is less toxic for the soil microbian community and biodegrades rapidly.

In highly contaminated soils (zinc, cadmium and lead), Ms Epelde, instead of extraction, opted for stabilisation with grass crops, to this end using lolium perenne (ryegrass) and fertiliser. Particularly effective is cattle purine as it enhances the properties of the mining soils and reduces the toxicity of metals.

Finally, Ms Epelde combined three species of plants with different strategies for tolerance to metals, in order to see how they worked together. The three were thlaspi caerulescens (Alpine pennycress), rumex acetosa (sorrel) and festuca rubra (red fescue). It was shown that this technique has a great future. In fact, the thlaspi caerulescens causes the growth of the other two species and the rumex acetosa extracts more zinc when operating in conjunction with the thlaspi caerulescens.

Microbiological properties as indicator

Ms Epelde has shown that microbiological properties are effective for measuring phytoremediation. Microbiological properties are bioindicators of great value, given their sensitivity, speed of response and comprehensive character.

Helped by this technique, she concluded that the key is phytoremediation plants, rather than phytoremediation itself. Just the presence of these plants improves the health of the soil and, moreover, does so in a very short time, through increase in activity and functionality of the microbian community in the soil. However, more time is needed for the phytoremediation to clean up the contamination left by metals in the soil. In any case, as the most important thing is to recover the health of the soil, the aim is accomplished.


Contact: Amaia Portugal
Elhuyar Fundazioa

Related biology news :

1. Plants discover the benefits of good neighbors in strategy against herbivores
2. Bone marrow cell transplants to benefit those with heart disease
3. DNA sequencing unlocks relationships among flowering plants
4. From carnivorous plants to the medicine cabinet?
5. New material mimics bone to create better biomedical implants
6. Moss helps chart the conquest of land by plants
7. Smart coating opens door to safer hip, knee and dental implants
8. Invasive plants are beneficiaries of climate change in Thoreaus woods
9. Changing flowering times protect tobacco plants against insect herbivory
10. Can modern-day plants trace their New Zealand ancestry?
11. How plants feel the temperature rise
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/4/2015)... New York , November 4, 2015 ... to a new market report published by Transparency Market ... Share, Growth, Trends and Forecast 2015 - 2022", the global ... of US$ 30.3 bn by 2022. The market is ... the forecast period from 2015 to 2022. Rising security ...
(Date:10/29/2015)... 29, 2015 Daon, a global leader in ... released a new version of its IdentityX Platform ... North America have already installed IdentityX v4.0 ... a FIDO UAF certified server component as ... activate FIDO features. These customers include some of the ...
(Date:10/29/2015)... Today, LifeBEAM , a leader ... a global leader in technical performance sports clothing ... advanced bio-sensing technology. The hat will allow fitness ... biometrics to improve overall training performance. As a ... bring together the most advanced technology, extensive understanding ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/30/2015)... Nov. 30, 2015 Spherix Incorporated (Nasdaq: ... to the fostering and monetization of intellectual property, ... prospective initiatives designed to create shareholder value. ... of Spherix. "Based on published reports, the total ... $50 billion and Spherix will seek to secure ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... SAN DIEGO , Nov. 30, 2015 ... today that the company has acquired Cypher Genomics, Inc., ... and robust human genomic interpretation software solutions. The ... who will join HLI including Cypher CEO and Co-founder, ... head of HLI,s Pediatric Business.  Financial details of the ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... , Nov. 30, 2015  Aytu BioScience, Inc. (OTCQB: ... and related conditions, will present at two upcoming investor ... an interactive real-time virtual conference, to be held December ... Conference, to be held December 2 nd & ... and streamed live via webcast. ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... , Nov. 30, 2015  Northwest Biotherapeutics (NASDAQ: ... DCVax® personalized immune therapies for solid tumor cancers, announced ... additional independent director, and the Company welcomes Neil ... in a recent anonymous internet report on NW Bio.  ... Linda Powers stated, "We agree with ...
Breaking Biology Technology: