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Content archived on 2024-05-29

Evaluating Metal Accumulation in Lichens


Environmental contamination by metals and radio nuclides is a major threat to human and environmental health in large areas of Romania suffering from a legacy of mining and as a consequence of out-dated industrial processes. These substances are also transported by long-range pollutant deposition to other EU countries. How lichens accumulate and retain metals is largely unknown in spite of their wide-scale use as environmental monitors and in the cycling of metals e.g. in the lichen-reindeer-man food chain. The present study seeks to provide advanced training for the applicant in chemical and microscopical techniques to enable her to assess patterns of metal deposition by using key bio indicator lichens in one of the most polluted valleys in Romania. Methods used will be based on protocols recently developed by the host group during \'MinUrals\' an EU InçoCopernicus grant and a related grant funded by the Royal Society carried out in polluted areas in Russia. The applicant will also be taught how to interpret data using multivariate statistical techniques and how to display data in a readily understandable form to non-scientists using colour maps. The project will contribute towards developing robust monitoring protocols for adoption in Europe. The Natural History Museum houses one of the largest collections of lichens from mining sites in the world including Romania complemented by comprehensive libraries arid state-of-the art analytical facilities. Recent studies have shown that different species may accumulate metals by a variety of ways and that some species produce a unique range of organic-metal complexes not reported in other organisms. The applicant will be taught new SEM methods to screen lichens to establish which species are accumulating metals in the highest concentrations. These lichens will then be examined using a range of analytical techniques to establish how metals are accumulated.

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Cromwell Road
United Kingdom

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