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Barley response to mineral stress caused by the presence of coal fly ash (FA) in plant growth media.

The utilization of coal fly ash (FA) as a soil amendment is one of the most intensively studied FA reutilization option. Despite the presence of toxic metals, elevated salinity levels, and high pH, up to date research have shown that FA may be used to support plant growth as a component of plant growth media. We investigated barley response to two different types of FA, one obtained by burning semi-bituminous coal (NDSU FA, collected from NDSU power plant), and another obtained by burning lignite coal (VCSU FA, collected from VCSU power plant).

We examined plants germination, growth, and a wide variety of potentially toxic elements, such as As, B, Co, Cu, Cr, Hg, Li, Mn, Ni, Ti, V, Zn uptake by the plants. The growth media were composed of a soil as a control, and two mentioned above ashes in the following combinations: 90%FA + 10%Soil, 80%FA + 20%Soil, 70%FA + 30%Soil, 60%FA + 40%Soil, 50%FA + 50%Soil, 40%FA + 60%Soil, 30%FA + 70%Soil, 20%FA + 80%Soil, 10%FA + 90%Soil. Barley (Hordeum vulgare), ryegrass (Lolium perenne), Sudan grass (Sorghum bicolor), canola (Brassica campestris), rapeseed (Brassica napus), and alfalfa (Medicago sativa) were grown in Petri dishes for 14-21 days in listed above growth media.

Results indicated that plant growth was greater on media composed of soil and FA when compared to the FA alone. Plants did not grow on the VCSU FA media, and barley was the only plant species tested that established growth on NDSU FA alone. Concentration of the most elements in plants grown on the soil control was similar to levels in the growth media containing FA. Barley appeared to be very viable plant, able to tolerate both relatively high amounts of toxic metals and poor growth conditions, such as growth media containing FA. It also has a root system able to stabilize coal FA piles. We concluded that the mineral stress caused by the presences of FA in growth media was tolerated by barley at greater extend than other plants tested. There were noticeable differences in seedlings growth, depending on the type and source of coal FA used.

Large scale implementation of plant cover over coal FA landfills will require conducting in-depth and large scale research. Plants should be grown till reaching maturity and results of such experiments would provide data for large-scale application of "green technology" to establish the growth of selected plant species on coal FA. Our results clearly demonstrated that plants are able to grow in such adverse conditions, as on coal FA media. In addition, our results have shown that the transfer of heavy metals present in FA to plants is limited. Thus, heavy metals transmission to a food chain is unlikely, and therefore, application of FA to plant growth media would not be dangerous from environmental health perspective.

This project was supported by grants from the National Center for Research Resources (5P20RRO16471-12) and the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (8 P20 GM1 O3442-12) from the National Institutes of Health.

Audrey Fergel *, Mardee Lander, Emma Nelson, Ashley Farnsworth, Candace Kraft, Erin McLean, Fakira Soumaila, and Jerzy J. Bilski

Department of Biology, Valley City State University, Valley City, ND
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Title Annotation:Undergraduate Communications in the A. Roger Denison Competition
Author:Fergel, Audrey; Lander, Mardee; Nelson, Emma; Farnsworth, Ashley; Kraft, Candace; McLean, Erin; Soum
Publication:Proceedings of the North Dakota Academy of Science
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 1, 2012
Previous Article:Schedule: summary schedule 2012.
Next Article:Byproducts in the rapid synthesis of N-(4-chlorobenzyl)formamide.

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