1 Tahrcountry Musings: A plant that eats up nickel

Monday, May 12, 2014

A plant that eats up nickel

                                          Photo Credit: Dr. Edwino S. Fernando; CC-BY 4.0

My friend from Wayand, Ramesh, is an aficionado of rare plants. Whenever we meet, he talks about plants only. The other day we met and the talk veered towards newly discovered Rinorea niccolifera that eats up nickel

It is the Scientists from the University of the Philippines, led by DR Edwino Fernando, who have discovered the new plant species that consumes nickel, up to 18,000 ppm of the metal in its leaves without itself being poisoned. Such an amount is a hundred to a thousand times higher than in most other plants.

The new species is called Rinorea niccolifera, alluding to its ability to absorb nickel in very high amounts. Nickel hyperaccumulation is a rare phenomenon.  The species was discovered on the western part of Luzon Island in the Philippines, an area known for soils rich in heavy metals.

Across the world, only about 450 species are known with this unusual trait. Juxtapose this against estimated 300,000 species of vascular plants and we get a clear picture of the rarity.

Dr Augustine Doronila of the School of Chemistry, University of Melbourne, a co-author of the report says "Hyperacccumulator plants have great potentials for the development of green technologies, for example, 'phytoremediation' and 'phytomining'

There is difference between the terms 'phytoremediation' and 'phytomining. Phytoremediation refers to the use of hyperacccumulator plants to remove heavy metals in contaminated soils. Phytomining, on the other hand, is the use of hyperacccumulator plants to grow and harvest in order to recover commercially valuable metals in plant shoots from metal-rich sites.

Details of the study in the latest issue of open access journal PhytoKeys

1 comment:

J.K said...

Interesting Mohanji