Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Environmental Analysis
Scientific Community
 
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article
  News
Return

First South American Plant for Purifying Soils Contaminated with Zinc and Cadmium

Published: Wednesday, July 03, 2013
Last Updated: Wednesday, July 03, 2013
Bookmark and Share
Gomphrena claussenii easily grows on contaminated soil near zinc mines and takes up large amounts of heavy metals.

Scientists from Wageningen (NL) and Lavras (Brazil) have found the first South American plant that can be used for purifying South American soils contaminated with the heavy metals zinc and cadmium.

Native plants are strongly preferred over exotic plants for this purpose as they reduce the risk of introducing an invasive species that can turn into a pest.

The plant, Gomphrena claussenii, easily grows on contaminated soil near zinc mines and takes up large amounts of heavy metals in its leaves and stems. This makes it quite suitable for the purifying of South American soils.

There are soils all over the world polluted with heavy metals - often through human activity. Cadmium in particular is very harmful to humans and animals and can cause cancer in high concentrations.

By growing plants that take up a lot of heavy metals, the contaminated soil can be cleaned in an eco-friendly way known as ‘phytoremediation.’

An important condition is that the plants used are able to grow well in the relevant soil, and are not themselves poisoned by the heavy metals.

Plants that can withstand heavy metals are most easily found by studying what already grows on contaminated soils, where plant species that can resist the pollution will win out over more sensitive plants.

However, a plant that is capable of growing in contaminated soil is not automatically a plant that stores heavy metals.

The scientists, led by Mina T. Villafort Carvalho from Wageningen University, part of Wageningen UR (University & Research Centre), discovered many plants of the species Gomphrena claussenii near a zinc mine in the state of Minas Gerais in Brazil.

They examined the plants in the lab, comparing them to the closely related Gomphrena elegans. "Our first question was to check that the G. claussenii plants did not suffer from high concentrations of heavy metals," Carvalho remembers. "The claussenii plants were indeed found to grow well, while G. elegans plants wasted away completely at high concentrations of zinc and cadmium."

Out of the two species, the G. claussenii plants were also observed to be better at taking up heavy metals than G. elegans plants - up to thirty times better for zinc and twenty times better for cadmium.

The leaves of the plants ultimately contained almost 1% zinc and more than 0.1% cadmium. The G. claussenii plants store the heavy metals proportionately more in the leaves and stems, and less in the roots, than the G. elegans plants.

Carvalho: "This is important as only the leaves and stems can be harvested. In other words, when the G. claussenii plants are removed much more zinc and cadmium is removed with them."

If the concentrations of heavy metals in the Gomphrena claussenii plants are compared with those in other plants suitable for the purification of contaminated soils, for example in Europe, then Gomphrena claussenii is not necessarily the best.

However, the plant grows fast and creates much more biomass than any other plants that take up zinc or cadmium - and therefore absorbs the most metal from the ground per plant.

Scientists estimate that removal of about 5-15 kg of cadmium per hectare per year is entirely realistic. This would cause many contaminants to be brought below minimum safety levels within five years.

According to the scientists, it would therefore be worthwhile to conduct practical research into the purifying effect of Gomphrena claussenii in South America.

In addition, further research might provide insight into the mechanism by which the plant absorbs the heavy metals without poisoning itself.


Further Information

Join For Free

Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 3,500+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 5,000+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters


Sign In



Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into TechnologyNetworks.com you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

BMAA Implicated in Neuro-Diseases
The neurotoxin BMAA is suspected to play a role in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
Monday, August 01, 2016
Scientific News
Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria In America's Water System
Antibiotic resistant bacteria live inside drinking water distribution systems blamed for rising healthcare costs.
Washing Clothes Releases Microplastic Particles
Research suggests that over 700,000 microfibres could be released in waste water with every run of a domestic washing machine.
Atmosphere Acidity Minimised to Preindustrial Levels
Sheet ice study shows acidic pollution of the atmosphere has now almost returned to preindustrial levels.
Detecting Hazardous Substances in Water
Scientists develop device for the rapid analysis for hazardous substance content in liquids.
Water Dynamics Affect Coral Reefs
Understanding what aids or degrades these ecosystems can help focus conservation efforts on reefs that are most likely to survive global warming.
Environmental Impact of GM Crops
Following the adoption of GM crops, insecticide usage decreases but herbicide use increases, study shows.
Impact of Emerging Contaminants in Our Water Supply
Emerging contaminants, any synthetic or naturally occurring chemical not commonly monitored in the environment, in our water supply are becoming of increasing concern due to their potential ecological and/or human health effects.
Study Finds Mercury Contamination Across Western N. America
BRI research results found widespread mercury contamination at various levels across Western North America.
Device Improves Measurement of Water Pollution
Researchers have developed a device that makes it easier to measure contaminant levels in water.
Changing Ocean Chemistry Due To Human Activity
More anthropogenic carbon in the northeast Pacific means weaker shells for many marine species.
Scroll Up
Scroll Down
Skyscraper Banner

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
 
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
3,500+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
5,000+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FOR FREE!