UA SRP Collaborates with Mexican Investigators to Evaluate the Phytostabilization Potential of Plants in Abandoned Mine Tailings

Drs. Raina Maier and Julia Neilson (UA SRP Director and Investigator) collaborated with investigators from UNAM (Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico) and UNISON (Universidad de Sonora) to identify native plant species with potential for phytostabilization of the abandoned mine tailings in Nacozari, Sonora in northern Mexico. 

The team, led by UNAM botanist Dr. Francisco Molina-Freaner, surveyed the Nacozari tailings for plant species that naturally colonized this site. Perennial species were sampled during the flowering season several times during the year and annual species during the summer rainy season. Forty-two different species were identified and the most abundant species demonstrated no accumulation of metals in the plant tissue with the exception of zinc in two species. Overall, the results of this study indicate that five native plant species might have potential for phytostabilization of the Nacozari tailings and that seed could be collected locally to revegetate the site. More broadly, this study provides a methodology that can be used to identify native plants and evaluate their phytostabilization potential for similar mine tailings.

For more information about the study, please refer to the following peer review journal article:

Santos, A. E., Cruz-Ortega, R., Meza-Figueroa, D., Romero, F. M., Sanchez-Escalante, J. J., Maier, R. M., Neilson, J. N., Alcaraz, L. D., Molina-Freaner, F. E. (2017). Plants from the abandoned Nacozari mine tailings: evaluation of their phytostabilization potential. PeerJ, 5. doi:10.7717/peerj.3280. PMCID: PMC5420198.