Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/1/2001
Publication Date: 7/24/2001
Citation: Interpretive Summary:
Technical Abstract: We have been conducting research to develop a new technology for using improved natural Ni hyperaccumulator plants for phytoextraction of soil Ni from mineralized and contaminated soils and mine wastes. This paper is a review of our approach to commercialization of the technology being developed. In essence, we are domesticating a new agricultural crop, and developing all soil and plant management practices needed to produce the crop for profit. Because Ni has significant value (about $8/kg), growing a crop with 2% Ni, and 400 kg/ha in the annual dry shoot biomass can provide more value than most agricultural crops, and the burning of the biomass to release the Ni for recovery/sale allows recovery of energy. We selected Alyssum species which occur widely in southern Europe for evaluation, and collected diverse germplasm for several Alyssum species. The promising genotypes were evaluated on serpentine soil fields under uniform growth conditions and types with high harvestable yield and high shoot Ni were selected for breeding improved commercial cultivars. Fertilizers and soil amendments needed to attain maximal yields were determined by experiments in pots and in the field. One unusual finding was that these species accumulated more Ni as pH increased, in sharp contrast with the the reduction of shoot Ni with increasing soil pH pattern of all previously studied crop plants. We also developed methods to seed, grow, control weeds, and harvest the crop under perennial production schemes. We conclude that Alyssum murale cultivars can be an important new economic crop for growth on mineralized or contaminated soils. Viridian has licensed patents awarded to the R&D Team and is working to commercialize this technology.