To the surprise of many, two common plants have the wonderful ability to absorb various toxic chemicals dispersed in contaminated soils with great efficiency. And although they can accumulate high concentrations of these elements in themselves, they outlive them, which allows them to do their plumbing for a long time. Since both plants accumulate poisonous elements in their above-ground and not in the parts below, their action removes these substances from the soil and makes it healthy.
The vegetable in question, examined by Irina ShtangeevaScientists from the Institute of Soil Science and Soil Ecology at the University of St. Petersburg in Russia are the wheat and the grass of the species Elymus repens, known by popular names like “Grama”.
This ability of both plants to extract toxic metals from contaminated soil can be used for effective remediation of land with this problem.
It is already common practice to clean contaminated floors with vegetables without damaging them, and at an affordable cost. The strategy is known as “Phytoremediation“But the usual thing is that every plant is able to accumulate a single chemical element in its part above the ground.
“Finding new facilities where a single metal can accumulate is a dead end,” says Shtangeeva. “The soil is usually contaminated with more than one toxic element. For the successful use of phytoremediation it is therefore important to find plants that can collect various toxic elements in the air in sufficient quantities without causing any significant damage to these plants.” In its development “.
Wheat sprouts, a plant that has now clearly been shown to remove some toxic chemicals from contaminated soil. (Photo: SpbU)
Shtangeeva discovered that wheat can survive in the harshest conditions of toxicity while efficiently accumulating various dangerous chemical elements from the soil. Elymus repens is one of the most common weeds in gardens. It also grows well near roads with heavy traffic. It is characterized by its vitality and the ability to accumulate in large quantities various dangerous chemical elements.
Many plants that can be extracted from the soil are already known and in use Cadmium, nickel, selenium and some other elements. Because of this, Shtangeeva was looking for plants that are able to extract much more unusual chemical elements in phytoremediation. Wheat and Elymus repens can extract from the soil and accumulate efficiently and simultaneously Bromine, europium, scandium, thorium and uranium.
Once the plants have absorbed these chemical elements, they can even serve as raw material for a new type of business, which will certainly be common in the future: the extraction of these elements for industrial purposes. There are already some trading companies in Germany, Switzerland, the USA and some other countries that accept this vegetable for processing and extraction of the chemical elements in order to reuse it in industry. (Source: NCYT from Amazings)