Doctoral Dissertations


“The extreme physiochemical characteristics of mine tailings inhibit microbial processes and natural plant growth. Consequently, vast and numerous tailings sites remain barren for decades and highly susceptible to wind and water erosion. Phytostabilization is a cost-effective and ecologically productive remediation approach; however, tailings revegetation is generally challenging and must often be assisted with appropriate soil amendments. Amendments applied individually in greenhouse studies discussed herein revealed notable improvement in bioenergy crops growth only with biosolids treatments. Recalcitrant carbon amendments (biochar and humus) showed notable impact only on tailings physichochemical and hydraulic properties. Nevertheless, biosolids may not support sustained vegetation due to their nutrient lability and rapid decomposition. Therefore, strategies to sustain phytostabilization were evaluated by co-applying biosolids with recalcitrant carbon or biological amendments to synergistically ameliorate tailings characteristics while supporting sustainable growth to stimulate soil formation. Co-applying with biochar exhibited efficient nutrient release while concurrently reducing metal availability and uptake. Co-applying with mycorrhizal fungi further improved biomass production, increased organic matter input, and reduced metal bioavailability and uptake. To non-destructively assess plant health, a rapid screening approach was also developed utilizing computer vision and imaging techniques. A wide range of native species was also screened for potential to revegetate mine tailings for greater ecosystem benefit and utilizing the developed approach greatly facilitated quantification of plant responses to phytomanagement strategies for mine-impacted sites”--Abstract, page iv.


Burken, Joel G. (Joel Gerard)

Committee Member(s)

Fitch, Mark W.
Shi, Honglan
Wang, Jianmin
Wronkiewicz, David J.
Gonzales, Eva


Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering

Degree Name

Ph. D. in Civil Engineering


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Research Center/Lab(s)

Center for Research in Energy and Environment (CREE)


Missouri University of Science and Technology

Publication Date

Spring 2022

Journal article titles appearing in thesis/dissertation

  • Amendment-assisted revegetation of mine tailings: Improvement of tailings quality and biomass production
  • Phytomanagement of lead/zinc/copper tailings using biosolids-biochar or -humus combinations: Enhancement of bioenergy crop production, substrate functionality and ecosystem services
  • Interactive effect of biosolids application and inoculation with mycorrhizal fungi on lead/zinc/copper tailings phytostabilization and bioenergy crop production
  • High throughput screening of native species for tailings eco-restoration using novel computer visualization for plant phenotyping


xv, 202 pages

Note about bibliography

Includes bibliographic references.


© 2022 Mariam Al-Lami, All rights reserved.

Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access

File Type




Thesis Number

T 12103