Super Trees

Andrew Heggie ahe1 at
Sun Oct 11 08:27:27 EST 1998

On Sun, 11 Oct 1998 03:02:47 -0400, Joseph Zorzin
<redoak at> wrote:

>I don't believe it. Most pollutants in the ground are NOT going to get
>sucked up into ANY tree. NONSENSE.


I think you are being a bit hasty in your reaction. The first poster
was quoting a press release that was a bit economical with the truth
I guess the original source was Nature Biotechnology Vol 16 p 925. I
have only read a synopsis. However it was about genetically
engineering yellow poplar (Liriodendron??) to enable the plant to
capture ionic mercury ( I'm no chemist but I guess this means mercury
as it becomes available from some chemical decomposition, old dry
batterries for instance,  in a land fill) and turn it into elemental
mercury , which is actually volatile in normal  atmospheric
conditions. The idea is the plant should capture and pass the
elemental mercury out of its leaves and into the atmosphere as mercury
metal. This is less polluting than allowing the ionic mercury to
combine with organic substances where it becomes far more damaging,
see Minamattas disease caused by  methyl mercury, which built up in
the staple fish diet of a Japanese village.

Off topic but in 1971( IIRC) research was done in an industrial valley
in Wales (the source of much of our heavy metal industries in the
1700s). Which suggested shell fish stored heavy metal entering the
water by seepage from old mine workings in concentrations it was
becoming viable to use as a rawstock.

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