The scientists have found a new plant species that follows a unique and of course a strange lifestyle. The unique plant discovered in Philippines eats metal for a living.
According to the researchers from the University of Philippines-Los Banos, the new plant species Rinorea niccolifera survives on nickel. The scientists spotted it on the western part of Luzon Island in the Philippines. The mentioned area is known for soils rich in heavy metals.
The study has been funded by Department of Science and Technology – Philippine Council for Industry, Energy, and Emerging Technology Research and Development (DOST-PCIEERD).
During the study, the scientists found that the new plant species can accumulate up to 18,000 ppm (parts per million) of nickel in its leaves. The best thing about this plant species is that it accumulates nickel without getting itself poisoned.
Researchers also highlighted that the amount of nickel accumulated by it is hundred to a thousand times higher than in most other plants.
The rare phenomenon of Nickel hyperaccumulation happens with only about 0.5 to 1 percent of plant species. It is noteworthy, only about 450 species are known with this unusual trait.
Study author Dr Augustine Doronila of the School of Chemistry, University of Melbourne, says “”Hyperacccumulator plants have great potentials for the development of green technologies, for example, ‘phytoremediation’ and ‘phytomining’.”
Phytoremediation is a process in which hyperacccumulator plants are used to remove heavy metals in contaminated soils. On the other hand, Phytomining is the use of hyperacccumulator plants to grow and harvest in order to recover commercially valuable metals in plant shoots from metal-rich sites.
The findings of the study were published in the open access journal PhytoKeys.