Heavy metal hyperaccumulators: plants that clean up

Hyperaccumulators are unusual. Able to absorb much larger amounts of metal compounds in their leaves and stems than normal plants, they are very useful for cleaning up contaminated land. Now researchers have published a database that provides easier access to information on the plant world’s hyperaccumulators.

Writing in New Phytologist, the researchers describe the new Global Hyperaccumulator Database. The database contains data on 721 species of hyperaccumulators, and the researchers hope that it will expand as more discoveries are made.

Image from author: the famous blue latex of the New Caledonian tree Pycnandra acuminata that contains 25% nickel.
Image from author: the famous blue latex of the New Caledonian tree Pycnandra acuminata that contains 25% nickel.

“By virtue of their existence on metalliferous soils, hyperaccumulator plants are actively threatened by mining, and timely identification is necessary to take advantage of their unique properties,” said senior author Dr. Antony van der Ent, of The University of Queensland, in Australia.

The Global Hyperaccumulator Database can be found at: http://hyperaccumulators.smi.uq.edu.au/collection/

Read the paper: Reeves, R. D., Baker, A. J. M., Jaffré, T., Erskine, P. D., Echevarria, G. and van der Ent, A. (2017) A global database for plants that hyperaccumulate metal and metalloid trace elements. New Phytologist. doi:10.1111/nph.14907

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Mike Whitfield (@mgwhitfield)
Development Coordinator
New Phytologist

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