Friday, 7 September 2018


Thanks to Super Punch, we learn that there is a class of highly-specialised trees that have evolved a particular affinity for normally toxic metals.
As the appropriately named Doctor Antony van der Ent explains to the BBC’s science desk, a species that they are studying in New Caledonia has high concentrations of nickel in its sap (latex) that researchers speculate may be a defence against insect predation. Under threat from deforestation from strip mining activities and slash and burn farming, scientists hope to study how the mechanism, called hyperaccumulation, works and perhaps to harness it to purify soils contaminated by industry or waste or even passively mine the ground for metals, harvesting the accrued resources with the plant—an extraction strategy called phytomining.