Now, however, Ramakrishna Wusirika’s research team may have discovered how to make plants grow in the mine-waste desert and soak up some copper while they are at it.
Maize grown in soil with copper and bacteria (C) appears as vigorous as the control plant (B).
Wusirika, a biological sciences professor at Michigan Technological University, began his research using several species of Pseudomonas bacteria from the sediments of Torch Lake. In the region’s copper-mining heyday, the lake was used as a dump for mine waste. “We found bacteria that are resistant to high levels of copper,” he said. “We thought we might be able to use them to help plants grow better on contaminated soils.”
So Wusirika’s research team added copper to soil samples and then inoculated them with a copper-resistant strain of Pseudomonas. Finally, they planted the samples with maize and sunflower seeds and waited.
As expected, seeds planted in copper-free soil thrived, and seeds planted in the copper-tainted soil without bacteria were stunted. But seeds planted in the coppery soil enriched with bacteria did much better; some were nearly as vigorous as plants grown without the toxic metal.
“The bacteria seem to help with plant growth, and they also help maize and sunflower uptake copper,” said Wusirika. That means some kinds of naturally occurring bacteria could make soil more fertile and, in concert with the plants, remove at least some of the copper, a process known as rhizoremediation.
Their work, coauthored by PhD student Kefeng Li and Wusirika, was published online March 1 in the Journal of Hazardous Materials. For their next project, Wusirika’s team has been testing how well their technique might work in a real copper-mining desert. They are in the process of using these bacteria to promote plant growth in stamp sands collected near the small Upper Peninsula village of Gay, where the copper-processing byproduct covers about 500 acres.
Ramakrishna Wusirika, 906-487-3068
Ramakrishna Wusirika | Newswise Science News
Six-legged livestock -- sustainable food production
11.05.2017 | Faculty of Science - University of Copenhagen
Elephant Herpes: Super-Shedders Endanger Young Animals
04.05.2017 | Universität Zürich
The world's highest gain high power laser amplifier - by many orders of magnitude - has been developed in research led at the University of Strathclyde.
The researchers demonstrated the feasibility of using plasma to amplify short laser pulses of picojoule-level energy up to 100 millijoules, which is a 'gain'...
Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.
Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....
Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.
The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....
An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.
We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...
Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.
Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...
24.05.2017 | Event News
23.05.2017 | Event News
22.05.2017 | Event News
29.05.2017 | Earth Sciences
29.05.2017 | Life Sciences
29.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy