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Monday, May 12, 2014

Metal-Eating Plant Discovered By Filipino Scientists

Metal-Eating Plant Discovered By Filipino Scientists

Scientists discovered a new plant species that eats metal.

Researchers at the University of the Philippines, Los Baños discovered a shrub that eats nickel to survive.

Researchers found that the Rinorea niccolifera accumulates up to 18,000 ppm of metal in its leaves without being poisoned.

Lead researcher Professor Edwino Fernando and his team said that the amount of nickel absorbed by the plant is a hundred to a thousand times higher than in most other plants.

Fernando and his team say that the hyper-accumulation of nickel is a very rare phenomenon, with only about 0.5 percent to 1 percent of plant species native to environments with nickel-rich soil.

Metal-Eating Plant Discovered By Filipino Scientists

Researchers explain that there are only about 450 plant species that can hyper-accumulate nickel. Researchers said this is still a small percentage compared the estimated 300,000 species of vascular plants.

"Hyperacccumulator plants have great potentials for the development of green technologies, for example, 'phytoremediation' and 'phytomining,'" co-researcher Dr. Augustine Doronila of the School of Chemistry, University of Melbourne, said in a news release.

Researchers explain that "phytoremediation" refers to the use of plants that can rapidly remove heavy metals in contaminated soils. "Phytomining" refers to the use of hyperacccumulator plants to grow and harvest to recover commercially valuable metals in plant shoots from metal-rich sites.

The findings were published in the journal PhytoKeys.



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