Title

Transgenic Modification of Sunflowers for More Efficient Phytoremediation of Radionuclide Contaminated Soils

Presenter Information

Larry Tolliver

Department

Biological Sciences

Major

Biological Sciences

Research Advisor

Westenberg, David J.
Shannon, Katie

Advisor's Department

Biological Sciences

Abstract

Phytoremediation, the process of using plants to clean up a contaminated area, is already in practice for contaminants such as plastics or heavy metals. In particular, the sunflower (Helianthus annuus) has been explored as a bioremediator of radionuclide-contaminated soils, especially uranium contaminated sites. The phytoremediation of uranium by sunflowers can be made more efficient by adding a chelating agent such as EDTA to the contaminated soil. However, EDTA is suspected to be a potential environmental pollutant itself and a biodegradable chelating agent such as citric acid should be used instead. By creating a transgenic sunflower that produces its own citric acid, the need for an external source of citric acid could be eliminated, streamlining the phytoremediation process. Such a transgenic sunflower could have important applications in sites with heavy uranium contamination such as uranium mines, nuclear accident sites and warzones where depleted uranium rounds were used.

Biography

Larry is a senior in Biological Sciences and will be graduating in May. He plans on attending graduate school at Missouri S& T for a master's degree in Applied and Environmental Biology.

Research Category

Research Proposals

Presentation Type

Poster Presentation

Document Type

Poster

Location

Upper Atrium/Hallway

Presentation Date

03 Apr 2013, 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm

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Apr 3rd, 1:00 PM Apr 3rd, 3:00 PM

Transgenic Modification of Sunflowers for More Efficient Phytoremediation of Radionuclide Contaminated Soils

Upper Atrium/Hallway

Phytoremediation, the process of using plants to clean up a contaminated area, is already in practice for contaminants such as plastics or heavy metals. In particular, the sunflower (Helianthus annuus) has been explored as a bioremediator of radionuclide-contaminated soils, especially uranium contaminated sites. The phytoremediation of uranium by sunflowers can be made more efficient by adding a chelating agent such as EDTA to the contaminated soil. However, EDTA is suspected to be a potential environmental pollutant itself and a biodegradable chelating agent such as citric acid should be used instead. By creating a transgenic sunflower that produces its own citric acid, the need for an external source of citric acid could be eliminated, streamlining the phytoremediation process. Such a transgenic sunflower could have important applications in sites with heavy uranium contamination such as uranium mines, nuclear accident sites and warzones where depleted uranium rounds were used.