Project R-8546


Phytostabilization of mine soils using native aromatic plant species suitable for promoting regional micro-economies. (Research)


The exploitation of mineral resources unavoidably pollutes soils and sediments with trace elements, which accumulate in the environment and affect human health and ecosystem services. Conventional remediation methods are expensive and detrimental for soil structure and fertility. Phytoremediation therefore comes into focus as a "green" alternative to stabilize, detoxify or remove pollutants from soil through a low cost and environmentally compatible biological process. As a novel approach, aromatic plant species are proposed for phytostabilization of metal polluted mining sites. In this way, aromatic plants could be used for both phytostabilization and essential oil production without the risk of metal contamination in the end-product. Profits from the commercialization of essential oils and their bio-derivatives could tackle both, the socioeconomic impacts of the cessation of the mining activities and the implementation costs of environmental restoration. The aim of this project is to generate the necessary knowledge to develop a phytostabilization strategy for mine site degraded soils, based on the synergistic use of aromatic plant species and rhizobacteria that promote plant growth and in this way contribute to local micro-economies. Preliminary data showed that Helianthus petiolaris grows very well in the arid environments of mining sites in South America. In addition, this species has a direct biotechnological potential since its essential oils can be used for pest control during storage of grains. In addition, rhizospheric microorganisms are crucial for enhancing the plant biomass production and tolerance to trace metals in such environments by either synthesizing physiologically active compounds, facilitating the uptake of nutrients or protecting them from pathogens. Up to now, 7 trace metal tolerant strains with promising plant growth-promoting capabilities were isolated from H. petiolaris roots. These strains will be studied more in depth using cutting-edge genomics tools and phenotypical characterization. Our results will undoubtedly contribute to a more profound understanding of interactions between aromatic plant and microorganisms to guide targeted manipulations of phytostabilisation to enhance its efficiency and productivity.

Period of project

01 January 2018 - 31 March 2021