Researcher Develops Innovative Way to Use Fungi for Bioremediation of Oil-Contaminated Soil
Through natural selection, adaptation and evolution, living organisms have been able to solve some of their most complex problems. As humans develop even more complex issues of our own, we are learning to look to nature as a model for solutions.
Earlier this month, new research emerged from Finland illustrating once again the amazingly powerful filtering properties of fungi. The findings of Erica Winquist in her dissertation for Aalto University show that fungi can be harnessed to clean polluted soil that otherwise may not be fit for disinfection using traditional methods.
Soil that has been polluted by organic compounds like oil can be treated by traditional approaches. However, such treatments are not effective against many other organic pollutants, such as polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) and dioxins, which is where Winquist's research comes in.
Winquist's breakthrough findings suggest that new, low-cost bioremediation methods could strip contaminated soil of organic pollutants—like PAHs and dioxins—which would make it available for reuse. Currently the favored, easiest and cheapest method of disposal is taking excavated soil to landfills that accept it for construction of new landfill sites. According to Aalto University's news release, during 2005 and 2006, Finland transported almost 3 million tons of contaminated soil to landfills. A far more sustainable method would be to clean and repurpose the soil.
The procedure uses the mycelia of white rot fungi (Trametes versicolor) grown on pine bark—which is an ideal medium for growing fungi because the wood contains compounds that prevent the growth of other microbes. After four to six weeks the fungi culture is transferred to a treatment plant where the white rot mycelia grow in the polluted soil and break down the compounds with the very lignin-like structures that pollute it. In laboratory tests, up to 96 percent of PAH compounds and 64 percent of the dioxins were broken down in three months. The compounds are found in areas where there is distribution of fuels, waste treatment facilities and other various kinds of industry, like sawmills or prep plants, explains Winquist.
Exploring bioremediation as a real solution is slowly emerging around the world. This year in Oregon, the nonprofit Ocean Blue Project launched a project to test mushroom's ability to clean up pesticides that plague waterways.
The research was carried out in cooperation with the University of Helsinki and the Finnish Environment Institute. Funding was provided through the Symbio programme run by Tekes, the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation, as well as by the companies working with the program.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
Disturbing footage of a snake in Goa, India vomiting an empty soft drink bottle highlights the world's mounting plastic pollution crisis.
By Melissa Hellmann
When her eldest son was in elementary school in the Oakland Unified School District, Ruth Woodruff became alarmed by the meals he was being served at school. A lot of it was frozen, processed foods, packed with preservatives. At home, she was feeding her children locally sourced, organic foods.
By James O'Hare
There are 20 million people in the world facing famine in South Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria and Yemen. In developed nations, too, people go hungry. Venezuela, for instance, is enduring food insecurity on a national level as a result of economic crisis and political corruption. In the U.S., the land of supposed excess, 12.7 percent of households were food insecure in 2015, meaning they didn't know where their next meal would come from.
Artists are taking the climate crisis into frame and the results are emotional, beautiful and stirring.
So you've seen the best climate change cartoons and shared them with your friends. You've showed your family the infographics on climate change and health, infographics on how the grid works and infographics about clean, renewable energy. You've even forwarded these official National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration graphs that explain the 10 clear indicators of climate change to your colleagues at the office.
As the Trump administration moves full speed ahead on boosting the oil and fossil fuel industry, opposition to increased pipeline construction is cropping up in different communities around the country.
By Simon Evans
Last Saturday, two dead whales washed up on the coast of Suffolk, in eastern England, and a third was spotted floating at sea.
What happened next illustrates how news can spread and evolve into misinformation, when reported by journalists rushing to publish before confirming basic facts or sourcing their own quotes.
By Monica Amarelo and Paul Pestano
Sun safety is a crucial part of any outdoor activity for kids, and sunscreen can help protect children's skin from harmful ultraviolet rays. Kids often get sunburned when they're outside unprotected for longer than expected. Parents need to plan ahead and keep sun protection handy in their cars or bags.
By Joe McCarthy
A lot of people take part in community clean-up efforts—spending a Saturday morning picking up litter in a park, mowing an overgrown field or painting a fence.