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Plant Power

Food Footprints! Bees, Plants, and People! Phytoremediation!

em brown

on 16 November 2014

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Transcript of Plant Power

Plant Power!
Bees and Bee-friendly Plants
What is Phytoremediation?
Diagrams and some articles http://www.mobot.org/jwcross/phytoremediation/
Specifically pertaining to lead: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21541849
another http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/ar/archive/jun00/soil0600.htm
About Chernobyl http://www.mhhe.com/biosci/pae/botany/botany_map/articles/article_10.html\
Another overview http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/nvswcd/newsletter/phyto.htm
Images of Phytoremediation (other than from previously listed sites):

Phytoremediation is the use of green plants and all the organisms around them (like bacteria in the soil helping their root systems) to stabilize or reduce contaminants in the soil - or sludges, sediments, surface water, and ground water.

It's used most with metal contaminants and volatile organic compounds, but also nuclear contamination like at Chernobyl.
Phytoremediation works best with...
Low contamination levels
Wide area contaminated
Shallow depth
Food Footprints
Local plants
Plants that take up more water through roots
Under ideal conditions, the plants will extract or degrade most of the contaminants.
Ecological Footprint
- the metric that allows us to calculate human pressure on the planet.
: a branch of science concerned with the interrelationship of organisms and their environments.

What's this all about?
Plants with deeper roots
Why use native plants?
Better adapted to environment
Won't become invasive
Saves money - there are some already there
No need for fertilizer, water, or pesticide
If everyone in the world lived the lifestyle of the average American we would need 9 planets.

Wildlife conservation
Phytoremediation in the U.S.
Oregon Poplar Site
Clackamas, OR
3-4 acres of vacant park near a stream.

The area contaminated was a former light industrial area with
ompounds from illegal dumping.

Shallow groundwater ideal site!

In 1998, they planted hybrid poplar tries to remediate the VOC contaminated groundwater.

Parts of the gas and contaminated water were seen in the trees as they took some up.
hybrid poplars
Aberdeen Proving Ground

How do carbon emissions contribute to humanity’s Ecological Footprint?

Do we fit on the planet?
Aberdeen, MD
How can the Footprint foster sustainable human development?
The J-Field in Aberdeen had been used as a disposal site for chemical weapons and industrial chemicals (1940-1970).

Hybrid poplars planted 1996, currently conclusive (more than OR) that they're removing excess groundwater and VOC's.

The number of VOCs could be reduced up to 85% in 30 years.
What is our effect on the world at large?

Today humanity uses the equivalent of 1.5 planets to provide the resources we use and absorb our waste.
It takes the Earth one year and six months to regenerate what we use in a year, when we actually have one.

Provide natural habitats
1986 Chernobyl explosion in the Ukraine caused severe radioactive contamination, massive evacuations.
Lots of radioactive emissions and toxic metals, like iodine, cesium-137, strontium, plutonium. Working their way up the food chain through plants, grazers, harming whole ecosystems and humans’ health with their radiation.

Determined that livestock (which were eating the plants with unhealthy radiation) could only eat uncontaminated plants. Also started phytoremediation initiative.
Many different efforts to find the best plants to clean up Chernobyl. Mustards like Brassica Juncea and Brassica Carinata. seemed best at removing large quantities of chromium, lead, copper, nickel. Corn, Ze Mays good for lead.
What we’re doing: Turning resources into waste faster than waste can be turned back into resources
->global ecological overshoot
-> depletion of resources that human life & biodiversity needed
Overshoot also contributes to resource conflicts and wars, mass migrations, famine, disease and other human tragedies—and tends to have a disproportionate impact on the poor who aren’t able to buy their way out of the problem by getting resources from somewhere else.

Metal Contamination
Metals are hard to take up because they
Can be toxic in too high concentrations (harm ATP, DNA)
1989 the Soviet government asked the International Atomic Energy Agency to assess the radiological and health situation in the area surrounding the plant.
Cannot be degraded into simpler compounds (unlike VOCs)
Are inorganic
However, some metals are essential for plant life.
Sometimes only accumulate in the roots of plants - not helpful
Plants that take up certain metals especially well are called hyperaccumulators.
Can usually only be accumulated slowly.
Can usually only be accumulated in small amounts
(100X better than normal!)
Most hyperaccumulators are slow-growing and produce little biomass.
Goal: to find (or breed) a fast-growing hyperaccumulator
This would have great detoxifying potential.
Also looking for hyperaccumulators for
Pb (Lead)
Zn (Zinc)
Bee Facts

provide nesting

1/3 of our food supply would vanish-- all fruits, nuts, seeds and vegetables
237 of the 453 products in that grocery store would be gone
Future impact:
collapsing fisheries, diminishing forests, depletion of fresh water systems& buildup of CO2 emissions--> global climate change
Personal/ collective action
-recognizing ecological limits
-investing in techn./infrastruc. that'll help operate in a resource constrained world
-creating public demand for businesses/politicians to participate in
How to Reduce Your
Carbon Footprint
Use cleaner transportation
-Don't leave cars idle
-Walk/ bike/ metro
-Service your vehicle
-Avoid short plane trips
Add energy saving features to your home
-Low mercury fluorescent bulbs
-Use energy efficient appliances
-Insulate your home
-Switch to a tankless water heater
Adopt energy saving habits
-Shorter showers
-Look to fix leaks
-Be aware of your thermostat during the seasons
Reduce your goods
-Buy less
-Composte food waste for the garden
...and denser (more mass/m^2) hyperaccumulators to store more.
Soil microorganisms can exist in symbiosis with the roots of the plant.
They help the plant uptake more soil by altering the chemical properties of metals in the roots.
They change the number and distribution of electrons to make metals easier to absorb.
This helps electrons in the plants' cell walls hold metals like lead.
In conclusion...
Phytoremediation is used on small (garden) and large (industrial) scales
It's helpful to clean up VOCs and metals contaminating soil.
Important Questions
Is it better to use locally grown plants or special hyperaccumulators?
Is plant rotation worth slowing down extraction?
More to think about...
Thank you!
We love plants!
Cleaning up PCBs and Metals in New York City soil
Step 1
Collect soil samples (from dif. parts of soil to assess contamination)
Step 2
Send the sample to a lab to be assessed.
Step 3
Create a remediation strategy: if/how to detoxify. Figure out what plants to use and how many.
Step 4
Start planting! Monitor the plants' growth.
Step 5
Harvest and re-plant. The plants will be saturated with toxins after the first ~14 weeks. Re-plating lets new plants pick up more toxins
Step 6
Dispose of toxic plants at hazardous waste facility. (esp. hyperaccumulators)
Brown Fields to Green Fields
Step 7
Re-test the soil to check if the problem is solved.
Now in time for a scary movie...
Green Ninja: Footprint Renovation
There are 25,000 known types and 4,000 located in the US
Bee Friendly Trees and Herbs
Bee-Friendly Flowers
Consequences for Life Without Bees
Limited Food Varieties
Economies Collapsing
California's economy heavily relies on a 4 million dollar almond industry
Bee pollination is responsible for generating more than 15 billion dollars in annual revenue
Plant flowers suitable to climate
Contain high levels of both pollen and nectar
Having plants that supply nectar and pollen all season long
Double or multi-petalled flowers
Nine Families
Apidae Megachilidae
Halictidae Melittidae
Negabimiidae Andrenidae Stenotriridae

Hybrid flowers
not covered with insecticides
Are assigned jobs by age
Brain chemistry is changed when given a new job
Can recognize human faces
Can get addicted to caffeine
Age backwards
Heart beats 12,000 beats per minute
Types of Bees
Have two stomachs
Lays 1500 eggs per day
Communicates with her hive with her own special scent (pheromones)
Eats Royal Jelly

Bee Nest vs Beehive
Bee Life Cycle
One in every honeycomb cell
Adult body structures gradually form
1. Head and the thorax of the pupa
develop and change color
2. Abdomen develops and changes color
3. Wings develop and change color
The newly hatched bee remains in the hive apart from orientation flights
for about 21 days performing various duties

Stays as an egg for three days
As small as a grain of rice
Can be cylindrical or oblong shaped
Sheds skin 5 times
Fed royal jelly-- protein-rich fluid for the first three days followed by beebread-- a mixture of pollen and honey by nurse bees
Stage lasts 6 days
Pollen and Nectar
The color red
Shape and Color
tubular or flat flowers
Bright colors especially yellow, blue, purple
Humans See Bees See Add in UV
black UV purple


* UV purple



UV violet

UV blue



blue green

black black
Lays egg every 5-6 minutes
Longer, more slender build
Primary colors: blue, green and ultraviolet, but can distinguish yellow, orange, blue-green, violet, purple, as combinations of their three primary colors.
Non-feeding stage
10th day-->the larva spins a cocoon (protective
covering) for itself
Lasts 13 days
Life span of a worker bee in days after emergence

Period of service as house bee
1 – 2 Cleans cells and warm the brood nest
3 – 5 Feeds older larvae with honey and pollen
6 – 11 Feeds young larvae with royal jelly
12 – 17 Produces wax and constructs comb, ripens
18 – 21 Guard the hive entrance and ventilate the hive

Period of service as field bee
22 + Forage for nectar, pollen, propolis and water

When it is 22 days old, the bee becomes a forager (field bee) and will leave the
hive to visit flowers.

The life span of an adult worker bee varies with the time of the year
Active colony (spring and summer) --> as long as 5-6 weeks
Inactive period (winter) --> five months or more
Die if stinger is used
Produce Royal Jelly
All female
Clean hive
Feed baby bees
Fed and take care of queen
Pack pollen and nectar into hive cells
Inside the Hive

Build and repair honeycomb
Guard hive
Outside the Hive
gather nectar and pollen
collect water
collect sap to make
into propolis
All males
Job is to find a queen to mate with
Don't have stingers
After mating, drones die
Beehives--> man-made structures inside which bee colonies make their home
Generally only honeybees live in hives, because no other types of bees have any commercial value.
Bee Nest--> naturally occurring structure
where bee colonies live
Typically build nests
in isolated locations
dry, dark space (bumblebees)
a tree (honeybees)
Types of Beehives
Three popular types
Top Bar
overall health
Naturally adapted, locally grown food works best for all purposes - helping bees, cleaning up chemicals, and reducing your food footprint
Borage-->refills with nectar every 2 minutes
Comfrey--> refills with nectar every 45 minutes
Lamiaceae (mint family)--> abundant in nectar, very fragrant
Lemon balm
Rosemary-->excellent early food source

Black Locust--> one of the finest honey trees of the Eastern states
Maples--> primary food source
Persimmon (Diospyros virginiana)--> considered valuable for building up
colonies in the spring
Pussy Willow (Salix)--> provide an early source of pollen
excellent foraging potential
large buds
contains sap
Full transcript