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Toxic or just a nuisance - How mosses cope with heavy metals

Project Leader
Lichtenegger Helga, BOKU Project Leader
Type of Research
Basic Research
Project partners
Universität Wien, Austria.
Contact person: Dr. Ingeborg Lang;
Function of the Project Partner: Koordinator
BOKU Research Units
Institute of Physics and Material Science
Funded by
Fonds zur Förderung der wissenschaftlichen Forschung (FWF) , Sensengasse 1, 1090 Wien, Austria
Increasing concern about pollution in the environment demands tools to determine metal accumulation in plants. Many studies only focus on one metal at a time although toxicity levels depend on multiple factors (metal combinations, speciation, complex formation, etc.). Mosses are ideal model objects to test metal adsorption as they are commonly used biomonitors for air quality and show the same structural components of the cell wall as roots of seed plants. Their small size makes them ideal for imaging without invasive preparation or sectioning.

Mosses are already widely used for metal biomonitoring on a phenomenological level, but there is no fundamental understanding of the metal dynamics and factors governing adsorption and toxicity. Most studies focus on single metals, despite clear indications that metal combination and complexation play a crucial role. We will gain important insights into the co- and cross-playing effects of different metals and metal compounds, thus shedding light on the underlying coping mechanisms of plants when confronted with environmental contamination.
Materials physics; Material sciences;
Mosses; X-ray imaging; Heavy metals; Cell wall;
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