Oats to clean up heavy metals in contaminated soil

Oats to clean up heavy metals in contaminated soil

Researchers from universities in China, Switzerland and Australia have identified that the naked oat is best suited to remove radioactive strontium from contaminated soils.

The study, published in the International Journal of Phytoremediation, investigated 26 cultivars of wheat, husk oat, naked oat and barley for their potential use as a tool to clean up strontium from soils after a nuclear accident.

The naked oat, also known as the 'hulless oat', is a cereal crop with edible seeds in the oat genus Avena and during threshing, the hull separates readily from the grain.

Using plants to remove metals and various organic pollutants from the environment is an emerging technology known as phytoremediation.

Co-author Hackett Professor Kadambot Siddique, from The University of Western Australia's Institute of Agriculture, said exposure to radioactive strontium after accidents could directly endanger human health, especially if it entered the food chain.

"Food is the most important pathway of strontium into humans, and high doses of strontium increases the risk of cancers and may induce skeletal abnormalities," Professor Siddique said.

"Phytoextraction of soils contaminated with heavy metals uses plants which take up contaminants and accumulate them to elevated levels in the shoots. The plants are then safely disposed of."

The researchers studied 26 species known to have higher accumulation of . They quantified the influence, uptake and translocation of strontium on growth of the plants. At maturity, the naked oat cultivar Neimengkeyimai-1 had the highest strontium content at all measured strontium levels.

"The percentage of removed from the soil to the shoots at harvest time was more than 1.4 per cent after 120 days. Naked oat plants could be selected for phytoremediation to clean up , and Neimengkeyimai-1 in particular could be used as a model for further research, as a starting point for finding more effective cultivars," Professor Siddique said.

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More information: "Uptake and Distribution of Stable Strontium in 26 Cultivars of Three Crop Species: Oats, Wheat, and Barley for Their Potential Use in Phytoremediation." DOI: 10.1080/15226514.2014.898016
Citation: Oats to clean up heavy metals in contaminated soil (2015, February 6) retrieved 20 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2015-02-oats-heavy-metals-contaminated-soil.html
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Feb 06, 2015
Phytoremediation has been looked at for decades, first sunflowers, and algae in a flowing water course once thought ideal. Why are they not in use? Why would an edible plant even be looked at? Once concentrated in the plant, the radiation would have to be disposed of as hazardous waste. Even burning would merely release what the plant has concentrated.
One wonders if another foray into the excesses of green are underway. Remember Deadly Harvest by Duff Wilson? Heavy metals were magically transformed into soil amendments simply by unloading at the front door and picking up the packaged material at the rear door. The plant of course was a fertilizer plant. Farmers when using this material were advised to lime heavily. So why would anyone put heavy metal on farm land for pasture grass or crops? Well, why would anyone want to use an edible plant to phytoremediate?

Feb 28, 2015
WOW! Lead and other toxic heavy metals really need to be cleaned up and detoxed from the body! Concerned readers may want to check out the informative website at http://www.detoxh...als.info

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