UPLB researchers discover metal-absorbing plant in Zambales

By , on May 14, 2014


Metal-eating plant named Rinorea niccolifera. Photo by Dr. Edwino S. Fernando / UPLB
Metal-absorbing plant named Rinorea niccolifera. Photo by Dr. Edwino S. Fernando / UPLB

MANILA — A research team from the University of the Philippines – Los Banos (UPLB) has discovered a new species of plant that can absorb 18,000 ppm (parts per million) of nickel–that’s almost 1,000 times higher than any plant can absorb.

This metal-absorbing plant was named Rinorea niccolifera.

The team of Professor Edwino Fernando and Dr. Marilyn Quimado from UPLB identified this new plant as a part of the species called “hyperaccumulators” or plants that can accumulate large quantities of a certain substance. Hence, its name. There are only 450 known species of hyperaccumulators so far.

According to their study, R. niccolifera was discovered in northern Zambales on the western part of Luzon, which is “known for soils rich in heavy metals.”

Augustine Doronila of the University of Melbourne, a co-author of the study, said that hyperaccumulator plants offer tremendous potential “for the development of green technologies” because of its ability to extract large amounts of metals from contaminated soils or metal-rich areas.

The entire study can be accessed free of charge from scientific journal website PhytoKeys.

With report from ABS-CBN News