2003 Progress Report: Woody Biomass Crops for Bioremediating Hydrocarbons and Metals

EPA Grant Number: R829479C010
Subproject: this is subproject number 010 , established and managed by the Center Director under grant R829479
(EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).

Center: The Consortium for Plant Biotechnology Research, Inc., Environmental Research and Technology Transfer Program
Center Director: Schumacher, Dorin
Title: Woody Biomass Crops for Bioremediating Hydrocarbons and Metals
Investigators: Rockwood, Donald L.
Institution: University of Florida
EPA Project Officer: Lasat, Mitch
Project Period: August 12, 2002 through December 31, 2003
Project Period Covered by this Report: August 12, 2002 through December 31, 2003
RFA: The Consortium for Plant Biotechnology Research, Inc., Environmental Research and Technology Transfer Program (2001) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Targeted Research , Hazardous Waste/Remediation


The objectives of this research project are to evaluate and characterize fast-growing, tree-based systems for maximizing phytoremediation of hydrocarbon and heavy metal contaminated soil and groundwater through a series of field and greenhouse studies. The six objectives of the research project are to:

1. Determine long-term nitrogen and water use efficiency for Populus deltoids or cottonwood (CW), Eucalyptus amplifolia (EA), and E. grandis (EG) under four silvicultural options: (a) no compost or mulch (W), (b) compost only (WC), (c) mulch only (WM), and (d) compost plus mulch (WCM) in a 2.8 hectare sewage effluent study (Water Conserv II) west of Orlando, FL, initiated in March 1998.

2. Assess ongoing remediation of copper (Cu), chromium (Cr), and arsenic (As) contaminated soil by CW clones at a former wood preservation facility in Archer, FL.

3. Compare hytoremediation potential of CW clones and EA progenies planted in July 2000, at a trichloroethylene (TCE) contaminated site near St. Augustine, FL.

4. Evaluate early effectiveness of CW and willow clones in remediating a TCE and perchloroethylene (PCE) contaminated site at LaSalle, IL.

5. Quantify variation between and within CW, EA, EG, willow, and cypress and assess mechanisms for tolerance to, and remediation of, varying TCE levels in a greenhouse study.

6. In collaboration with Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU), select CW clones promising for southwide phytoremediation from a clone test near Quincy, FL.

Progress Summary:

To date, efforts have been focused on evaluating and characterizing tree-based phytoremediation systems. This project’s accomplishments include:

1. CW, EA, and EG representing various coppice rotation management strategies (1-year-old first coppice, 2-year-old first coppice, 1-year-old second coppice) were felled in May 2003. Tree size and dry weight data suggest that first and second coppice rotation yields can equal or exceed first-rotation yields. Peak coppice productivity will not be achieved in the first year of coppice growth, and root biomass does not significantly increase with coppicing. Nutrient analyses are in progress to assess differences among coppice rotations and age.

2. A tendency for fast-growing clones to have lower As concentrations suggests that total As uptake by CW will be a balance between biomass production and As concentration. Certain clones, however, such as ST-229, that combine fast growth with high concentration, would maximize uptake. In reconstructed portions of the Archer site, CW, EA, and EG genotypes were planted with compost and no-compost amended soils in April 2003. Because of high CW mortality, Chinese brake fern (an As hyperaccumulator) and selected CW, EA, and EG genotypes were established in a fern-tree mixing study in August 2003, to determine if fern-tree mixes took up more As than each species alone.

3. After 29 months, 6-inch diameter, plastic "training" tubes inhibited above-ground growth of CW and EA, presumably root growth, and access to groundwater. Trees planted in 2-, 3-, and 4-ft tubes had 10 percent less survival, were 0.8 m shorter, and measured from 0.4-0.8 cm less in diameter at breast height (DBH). CW and EA were statistically equally vigorous, but an EA progeny was the most productive genotype.

4. At the LaSalle site in 2002, unrooted willow cuttings averaged only 10.9 percent survival at 4 months in the NW study because of exceptionally late and severe spring freezes; the only willow clone with more than 50 percent survival grew poorly (see Table 1). Although rooted poplar cuttings had only 47.8 percent survival at 4 months, several poplar clones all survived and grew rapidly in the PCE-contaminated clay soil, averaging 2 m in height, with individual ramets reaching 3.3 m, a reflection of the improved soil texture and organic matter content, as well as the advantage of planting mini-barbatelles. Mini-barbatelles interplanted in the summer, however, typically lagged far behind the spring planting. The poplar and willow whips rooted well in fiber pots, and many exceeded 4 m in height when planted in September in the GTU portion of the site. In 2003, the trees surviving from the spring 2002, planting grew well, as did the whips in the GTU, and their impact on groundwater was noticeable. Several poplar clones excelled in the NW, and certain willow clones were exceptional in the GTU. GTU trees, which typically had root systems fully occupying their 2-ft wide, 3-6 ft deep "containers," and extending much deeper, effectively lowered the water table and contained the TCE plume onsite.

5. This study, involving saturating CW, EA, EG, and cypress root masses with 0, 50, and 100 ppm TCE concentrations from mid-May to early-August, detected differences among and within species for tree vigor assessments such as height, stem diameter, and leaf number. The determination of tree-component dry weights is in process.

6. Unrooted cuttings of CW clones representing the range of As uptake and of new clones were provided to FAMU in April 2003, for evaluating propagation options. Greenwood cuttings of many of the same clones were arranged from the Quincy test in September.

Tree survival was not correlated with toluene concentrations. Toluene was detected in leaf and branch samples of EA but not CW. Toluene detected in air samples could not be traced to transpiration.

Table 1. Number of Trees and Means for Species and Range Among Poplar and Willow, Clonal Means for Height (H) and Survival (S) at 4 and 8 Months in the LaSalle Study

Height (m)
Survival (%)
4 months
8 months
4 months
8 months

Future Activities:

This project's further evaluation and characterization of tree-based phytoremediation systems will involve, by objective: (1) completion of nutrient analyses to assess differences among CW, EA, and EG coppice rotations and ages (resources and personnel are insufficient to update water use efficiency analysis); (2) growth assessment of Chinese brake fern and CW, EA, and EG genotypes in the fern-tree mixing study; (3) comparison of phytoremediation potential of CW clones and EA progenies at St. Augustine through tree measurement in November; (4) evaluation of CW and willow clones at LaSalle through above-ground and below-ground measurements at the end of October; (5) analysis of variation between and within CW, EA, EG, and other species in the greenhouse study (resources and personnel are insufficient to assess mechanisms for tolerance and remediation); (6) in collaboration with FAMU, completion of CW clone comparisons for propagation success and field performance in Quincy clone tests.

Journal Articles:

No journal articles submitted with this report: View all 7 publications for this subproject

Supplemental Keywords:

phytoremediation, compost, arsenic, trichloroethylene, TCE, cottonwood, Populus deltoides, willow, Eucalyptus amplifolia, Eucalyptus grandis, Florida, FL, Illinois, IL., Scientific Discipline, Waste, TREATMENT/CONTROL, POLLUTANTS/TOXICS, Sustainable Industry/Business, Treatment Technologies, Geochemistry, Chemicals, Technology, Bioremediation, New/Innovative technologies, Environmental Engineering, Agricultural Engineering, bioengineering, transgenic plants, biodegradation, woody biomass crops, plant biotechnology, photoremediation, biotechnology, remediation, hydrocarbons, bioacummulation, phytoremediation, bioenergy, heavy metals

Relevant Websites:

http://www.cpbr.org Exit

Progress and Final Reports:

Original Abstract
  • Final Report

  • Main Center Abstract and Reports:

    R829479    The Consortium for Plant Biotechnology Research, Inc., Environmental Research and Technology Transfer Program

    Subprojects under this Center: (EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).
    R829479C001 Plant Genes and Agrobacterium T-DNA Integration
    R829479C002 Designing Promoters for Precision Targeting of Gene Expression
    R829479C003 aka R829479C011 Biological Effects of Epoxy Fatty Acids
    R829479C004 Negative Sense Viral Vectors for Improved Expression of Foreign Genes in Insects and Plants
    R829479C005 Development of Novel Plastics From Agricultural Oils
    R829479C006 Conversion of Paper Sludge to Ethanol
    R829479C007 Enhanced Production of Biodegradable Plastics in Plants
    R829479C008 Engineering Design of Stable Immobilized Enzymes for the Hydrolysis and Transesterification of Triglycerides
    R829479C009 Discovery and Evaluation of SNP Variation in Resistance-Gene Analogs and Other Candidate Genes in Cotton
    R829479C010 Woody Biomass Crops for Bioremediating Hydrocarbons and Metals
    R829479C011 Biological Effects of Epoxy Fatty Acids
    R829479C012 High Strength Degradable Plastics From Starch and Poly(lactic acid)
    R829479C013 Development of Herbicide-Tolerant Energy and Biomass Crops
    R829479C014 Identification of Receptors of Bacillus Thuringiensis Toxins in Midguts of the European Corn Borer
    R829479C015 Coordinated Expression of Multiple Anti-Pest Proteins
    R829479C016 A Novel Fermentation Process for Butyric Acid and Butanol Production from Plant Biomass
    R829479C017 Molecular Improvement of an Environmentally Friendly Turfgrass
    R829479C018 Woody Biomass Crops for Bioremediating Hydrocarbons and Metals. II.
    R829479C019 Transgenic Plants for Bioremediation of Atrazine and Related Herbicides
    R829479C020 Root Exudate Biostimulation for Polyaromatic Hydrocarbon Phytoremediation
    R829479C021 Phytoremediation of Heavy Metal Contamination by Metallohistins, a New Class of Plant Metal-Binding Proteins
    R829479C022 Development of Herbicide-Tolerant Energy and Biomass Crops
    R829479C023 A Novel Fermentation Process for Butyric Acid and Butanol Production from Plant Biomass
    R829479C024 Development of Vectors for the Stoichiometric Accumulation of Multiple Proteins in Transgenic Crops
    R829479C025 Chemical Induction of Disease Resistance in Trees
    R829479C026 Development of Herbicide-Tolerant Hardwoods
    R829479C027 Environmentally Superior Soybean Genome Development
    R829479C028 Development of Efficient Methods for the Genetic Transformation of Willow and Cottonwood for Increased Remediation of Pollutants
    R829479C029 Development of Tightly Regulated Ecdysone Receptor-Based Gene Switches for Use in Agriculture
    R829479C030 Engineered Plant Virus Proteins for Biotechnology