"But let's say, by some obscure chance, those plants were growing on soils with elevated metals. We've shown that high salicylic acid levels produce high glutathione levels. We know high glutathione is crucial for nickel tolerance, and when this plant accumulates nickel, it becomes pathogen resistant. So now the plant doesn't die; it can propagate, and over time this can evolve as a more enhanced system."
This research is part of a larger gene discovery initiative involving Purdue's Center for Phytoremediation Research and Development, a multidisciplinary research center dedicated to developing a "molecular toolbox" to provide the genetic information to develop plants to clean up polluted sites. Technologies developed at the center will be commercialized through a partnership with the Midwest Hazardous Substance Research Center, a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regional hazardous substance research center.
Salt collaborated in this research with John Freeman, a former graduate student now at the University of Colorado, Fort Collins. Graduate students Daniel Garcia and Amber Hopf and postdoctoral scientist Donggium Kim at Purdue's Center for Plant Environmental Stress Physiology also participated in this research. The National Science Foundation and the Indiana 21st Century Research and Technology Fund funded this project, with support from the Bindley Bioscience Center in Purdue's Discovery Park.