How Plants Can Save the Niger Delta

The Niger Delta has been severly polluted from petroleum and industrial contamination, and all the cleaning techniques used until now have proven to be inefficient. Scientist Eucharia Nwaichi will be looking into living plants to find new ways to save the Delta.

Eucharia Nwaichi believes strongly in the importance of targeting her research to a specific need, whether driven by industry or by society.


Her latest research challenge is spurred by concern for the future of the Niger Delta region of Nigeria which is threatened with severe pollution from petroleum and other industrial contamination that leaves precious agricultural land unfit for use.

The most toxic chemicals, including heavy metals such as copper and arsenic, risk entering the food chain with subsequent catastrophic effects on human health.


Traditional methods of cleaning up petroleum pollution, such as excavation, can be very expensive. Bioremediation, which uses microorganisms to degrade the pollutants, provides a cheaper and more environmentally friendly approach.


Unfortunately, some contaminants are so tightly bound to the soil elements that they resist attack by microorganisms, leaving soils with persistent heavy metal pollution. Eucharia believes that phytoremediation, which uses living plants rather than microorganisms, could provide a viable solution to this problem. Plants can rid the soil of pollutants either by chemically transforming them into less harmful metabolites or by chemically binding inside the plant’s own tissues, most often in the root system as part of the symbiotic relationship with soil fungi. Eucharia has chosen to test the potential of two local plants, Bambara bean and Lemon grass, for cleaning up a crude oil-contaminated site in the Delta. Using soil samples extracted from the site, she will plant seedlings of each species. Once they are established, Eucharia will proceed with a range of analytical tests at the Institute of Agrophysics in Lublin, Poland, to establish how well they grow in oil-contaminated soil and their capacity to take up and store the contaminants. She will focus particularly on the uptake of the toxic elements in the plants, and their effect on the activity of key catalytic enzymes involved in soil-plant interactions. Her research will help assess the suitability of these two local plant species for use in phytoremediation in the Niger Delta. Through a better understanding of the interactions between soil, pollutant and plant enzymes during this process, the study could help ensure that this sustainable solution for polluted land is used most effectively.

L’Oréal–UNESCO
For Women in Science

Before downloading this file

We confirm that the use of the Contents provided on this website is strictly for editorial purposes only.

We understand and confirm that any use, reproduction or representation of the Content provided on the Site (in whole or in part) or of the elements which comprise it, for commercial purposes whatsoever, is not authorized and violations in this regard shall invite strict legal action as per applicable laws & regulations.

We understand and confirm that the right to use the Content is on non-exclusive, non-transferable basis.

We hereby confirm that all information/statements/certificate in this database are provided without any warranty, express or implied, as to their legal effect, completeness and effects of any transaction under process may not be completely reflected.

We hereby confirm that all information/statements/certificate should be used in accordance with applicable laws. Use of information/statements/certificate shall be at my/ our own risk and L’OREAL shall not be responsible for the same.

We do hereby confirm that by using this Site, I/we am/are deemed to have accepted these Terms of Use without reserve.

I agree to the terms of use

Download

Cancel