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Scientists Discover Nickel-Eating Plant Species

samzenpus posted about 4 months ago | from the what's-for-dessert? dept.

Science 57

An anonymous reader writes "A new species of metal-eating plant has been discovered in the Philippines, and the plant loves to eat nickel. From the article: 'Scientists from the University of the Philippines, Los Baños have discovered Rinorea niccolifera, a plant species that accumulates up to 18,000 ppm of the metal in its leaves without poisoning itself, according to Edwino Fernando, lead author of the report and professor, said in a statement. Fernando and his team say that the hyper-accumulation of nickel is a very rare phenomenon, with only about 0.5 percent to 1 percent of plant species native to environments with nickel-rich soil.'"

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Marijuana has been eating my nickels (4, Funny)

retroworks (652802) | about 4 months ago | (#46973979)

And my 50 dollar bills.

Re:Marijuana has been eating my nickels (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46974059)

Yes, but you get them back later as "dime bags".

Re:Marijuana has been eating my nickels (0)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 4 months ago | (#46974077)

Girls are almost ready to go outside. Nice Trainwreck.

Down to about a pound from last years crop. Woe is me.

Guess I could always make some honey from scrap.

Re:Marijuana has been eating my nickels (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46974261)

Look at me, I grow pot!

Sounds like a defense mechanism. (4, Interesting)

mmell (832646) | about 4 months ago | (#46974031)

I am assuming that the concentration of nickel in the plant is high enough to make it unpleasant to herbivores, possibly even toxic. Of course, it could merely be an adaptation to take advantage of environments which other plants have difficulty with.

In either event, I wonder if the concentration of nickel in these plants is sufficiently high to make farming them a productive mining activity?

Re:Sounds like a defense mechanism. (4, Interesting)

DigiShaman (671371) | about 4 months ago | (#46974087)

It's called phytomining. Primary used in the extraction of gold when available.

Re:Sounds like a defense mechanism. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46975221)

It would interesting to see if how it picks up nuclear waste products in soil....

Mushrooms (1)

dutchwhizzman (817898) | about 4 months ago | (#46977799)

Mushrooms are actually quite good at that and once those decay, they leave almost nothing in "dry material".

Re: Sounds like a defense mechanism. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46975831)

Not gold, but maybe you could phytomine Palladium or Platinum. Or better yet, use the plant as a type of Aquaregia (strong mixture of acids that may have been used to dissolve and conceal gold) for all of your platinum. Your dog ate the plant!?!? I can't afford to put you through college.

Re:Sounds like a defense mechanism. (4, Informative)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 4 months ago | (#46974093)

According to Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] most current nickel deposits run around 1% ore purity. The plant comes out to about 1.8% nickel which is high enough grade but - you need thousand of tons of ore to make it commercially feasible. Thousands of tons of plant matter is one hell of a lot of bushes.

Re:Sounds like a defense mechanism. (4, Interesting)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | about 4 months ago | (#46974185)

I'd imagine you'd probably only get a couple of harvests before the soil loses all of its ore too. Genetically engineered seaweed to extract metals from seawater, now that might be a longer term prospect.

Re:Sounds like a defense mechanism. (1)

cusco (717999) | about 4 months ago | (#46976479)

Problem with seaweeds is that a lot of them are actually cooperative algae (like kelp). A heavy rain causes a pond to overflow or a seagull leave a pond with some stuck to its feathers and now it's in the wild. I hope that the petroleum-excreting algae continue to be utter failures for that reason.

Re:Sounds like a defense mechanism. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46976695)

Problem with seaweeds is that a lot of them are actually cooperative algae (like kelp). A heavy rain causes a pond to overflow or a seagull leave a pond with some stuck to its feathers and now it's in the wild. I hope that the petroleum-excreting algae continue to be utter failures for that reason.

Why? You'll make billions if you can pull that off. It would probably take several decades of the "red queen" oil-producing algae to poison the oceans enough to kill off all life. Even if you eat right and exercise, you'll still be dead by then, likely faster from hookers and coke.

Re:Sounds like a defense mechanism. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46979257)

Why? You'll make billions if you can pull that off. It would probably take several decades of the "red queen" oil-producing algae to poison the oceans enough to kill off all life. Even if you eat right and exercise, you'll still be dead by then, likely faster from hookers and coke.

Someone else will make billions and live fast, I'll be caught with the clean up bill, like usual.

Re:Sounds like a defense mechanism. (2)

Neil Boekend (1854906) | about 4 months ago | (#46977315)

It is an advantage that the soil loses it's nickel. For most life that stuff is toxic.
Just deep plow the soil each couple of years after harvest to get the top 1m about equally. After a couple of decades the nickel will have left the upper 1m of soil. Remove 80 cm of it and continue. After 3 cycles you can return the upper layers so you can let forests grow there. No deep rooted trees, because those go deeper than 2.4m, but some species should fare quite well.

Re:Sounds like a defense mechanism. (1)

bluegutang (2814641) | about 4 months ago | (#46974611)

Of course, processing the plant should be easier. You just burn it.

Re:Sounds like a defense mechanism. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46974825)

You need thousands of tons to make it worthwhile using traditional methods...maybe this method becomes economically viable at far lower masses, as the effort may be much less expensive.

mmell LIBEL classics (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47075501)

Saying I use hosts to evade police while I surf little boy porn http://slashdot.org/comments.p... [slashdot.org]

Libeling me saying my WARE IS A VIRUS etc. too? Please -> http://slashdot.org/comments.p... [slashdot.org] (1 of 2)

Libeling me saying my WARE IS A VIRUS etc. too? Please -> http://slashdot.org/comments.p... [slashdot.org] (2 of 2)

THEN RECANTING THAT LIBEL HERE http://slashdot.org/comments.p... [slashdot.org]

?

ERRONEOUSLY saying I was creating a DNS replacment (which it's not, it shores up DNS redirect security issues & resolves FASTER locally in RAM vs. remote lookups) -> http://tech.slashdot.org/comme... [slashdot.org]

Saying VI can do all my APK Hosts File Engine can do (not) & running -> http://slashdot.org/comments.p... [slashdot.org] when VI can't?

* Please... lol!

APK

P.S.=> You have SERIOUS issues - get over your ''geek angst" already (you're not even much of a 'geek' based on your technical screwups above)... apk

What does this have to do with the thread? (1)

mmell (832646) | about 4 months ago | (#47077467)

I'm guessing that when Mommy rescued you from the schoolyard bullies she told you to "just keep repeating 'it's okay'". That's why you keep repeating yourself here. It's the only kind of emotional reassurance you can get nowadays, isn't it?

Incidentally, your software may or may not be okay - but only a madman would trust anything you wrote to run in ring 0 (kernelspace).

mmell caught supporting himself by ac posts (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47077489)

ROTFLMAO http://slashdot.org/comments.p... [slashdot.org] You're a fool that projected his own modus operandi doing it no less.

What does that have to do with this thread? (1)

mmell (832646) | about 4 months ago | (#47077703)

Unlike you, I don't post A/C.

I'm sure you believe otherwise; but that's because you can only post A/C. Been banned here at /. like over at Wikipedia? I'm sure your delusional pattern is the result of long-term abuse by one or both of your parents, combined with schoolyard bullying. In fact, your behavior here is proof of this. You've discovered an arena where you can be the bully - only none of us are running home crying.

Must be scary - having someone you've never met personally so accurately describe your life? You're still a poor child, helpless to defend himself. You're A/C, and the only posts I've ever seen supporting you have come from yourself, the A/C. It's not fair, is it? Even here, you are the bullied, not the bully - isn't that right?

LOL, you tried to and fucked up (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47077799)

ROTFLMAO mmell caught trying to ac post "support himself" http://slashdot.org/comments.p... [slashdot.org] You're a fool that projected his own modus operandi doing it no less.

mmell how'd "eating your words" taste? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47079829)

Saying I use hosts to evade police while I surf little boy porn http://slashdot.org/comments.p... [slashdot.org]

Libeling me saying my WARE IS A VIRUS http://slashdot.org/comments.p... [slashdot.org] (1 of 2)

Libeling me saying my WARE IS A VIRUS http://slashdot.org/comments.p... [slashdot.org] (2 of 2)

THEN RECANTING THAT LIBEL HERE - "EATING YOUR WORDS" http://slashdot.org/comments.p... [slashdot.org]

?

ERRONEOUSLY saying I was creating a DNS replacment (which it's not, it shores up DNS redirect security issues & resolves FASTER locally in RAM vs. remote lookups) -> http://tech.slashdot.org/comme... [slashdot.org]

Saying VI can do all my APK Hosts File Engine can do (not) & running -> http://slashdot.org/comments.p... [slashdot.org] when VI can't?

* Please... lol!

APK

P.S.=> You have SERIOUS issues - get over your ''geek angst" already (you're not even much of a 'geek' based on your technical screwups above)... apk

mmell: How'd "eating your words" taste? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47079843)

Saying I use hosts to evade police while I surf little boy porn http://slashdot.org/comments.p... [slashdot.org]

Libeling me saying my WARE IS A VIRUS http://slashdot.org/comments.p... [slashdot.org] (1 of 2)

Libeling me saying my WARE IS A VIRUS http://slashdot.org/comments.p... [slashdot.org] (2 of 2)

THEN RECANTING THAT LIBEL HERE - "EATING YOUR WORDS" http://slashdot.org/comments.p... [slashdot.org]

?

ERRONEOUSLY saying I was creating a DNS replacment (which it's not, it shores up DNS redirect security issues & resolves FASTER locally in RAM vs. remote lookups) -> http://tech.slashdot.org/comme... [slashdot.org]

Saying VI can do all my APK Hosts File Engine can do (not) & running -> http://slashdot.org/comments.p... [slashdot.org] when VI can't?

* Please... lol!

APK

P.S.=> You have SERIOUS issues - get over your ''geek angst" already (you're not even much of a 'geek' based on your technical screwups above)... apk

mmell: How'd "eating your words" taste? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47079935)

Saying I use hosts to evade police while I surf little boy porn http://slashdot.org/comments.p... [slashdot.org]

Libeling me saying my WARE IS A VIRUS http://slashdot.org/comments.p... [slashdot.org] (1 of 2)

Libeling me saying my WARE IS A VIRUS http://slashdot.org/comments.p... [slashdot.org] (2 of 2)

THEN RECANTING THAT LIBEL HERE - "EATING YOUR WORDS" http://slashdot.org/comments.p... [slashdot.org]

?

ERRONEOUSLY saying I was creating a DNS replacment (which it's not, it shores up DNS redirect security issues & resolves FASTER locally in RAM vs. remote lookups) -> http://tech.slashdot.org/comme... [slashdot.org]

Saying VI can do all my APK Hosts File Engine can do (not) & running -> http://slashdot.org/comments.p... [slashdot.org] when VI can't?

* Please... lol!

APK

P.S.=> You have SERIOUS issues - get over your ''geek angst" already (you're not even much of a 'geek' based on your technical screwups above)... apk

mmell: How'd "eating your words" taste? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47079831)

Saying I use hosts to evade police while I surf little boy porn http://slashdot.org/comments.p... [slashdot.org]

Libeling me saying my WARE IS A VIRUS http://slashdot.org/comments.p... [slashdot.org] (1 of 2)

Libeling me saying my WARE IS A VIRUS http://slashdot.org/comments.p... [slashdot.org] (2 of 2)

THEN RECANTING THAT LIBEL HERE - "EATING YOUR WORDS" http://slashdot.org/comments.p... [slashdot.org]

?

ERRONEOUSLY saying I was creating a DNS replacment (which it's not, it shores up DNS redirect security issues & resolves FASTER locally in RAM vs. remote lookups) -> http://tech.slashdot.org/comme... [slashdot.org]

Saying VI can do all my APK Hosts File Engine can do (not) & running -> http://slashdot.org/comments.p... [slashdot.org] when VI can't?

* Please... lol!

APK

P.S.=> You have SERIOUS issues - get over your ''geek angst" already (you're not even much of a 'geek' based on your technical screwups above)... apk

mmell: How'd "eating your words" taste? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47080531)

Saying I use hosts to evade police while I surf little boy porn http://slashdot.org/comments.p... [slashdot.org]

Libeling me saying my WARE IS A VIRUS http://slashdot.org/comments.p... [slashdot.org] (1 of 2)

Libeling me saying my WARE IS A VIRUS http://slashdot.org/comments.p... [slashdot.org] (2 of 2)

THEN RECANTING THAT LIBEL HERE - "EATING YOUR WORDS" http://slashdot.org/comments.p... [slashdot.org]

?

ERRONEOUSLY saying I was creating a DNS replacment (which it's not, it shores up DNS redirect security issues & resolves FASTER locally in RAM vs. remote lookups) -> http://tech.slashdot.org/comme... [slashdot.org]

Saying VI can do all my APK Hosts File Engine can do (not) & running -> http://slashdot.org/comments.p... [slashdot.org] when VI can't?

* Please... lol!

APK

P.S.=> You have SERIOUS issues - get over your ''geek angst" already (you're not even much of a 'geek' based on your technical screwups above)... apk

Don't take any wooden nickels. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46974073)

Or green leafy ones either

Interesting Discovery (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46974121)

Now if we could only find plants to leech radioactive particles for both Japan and Ukraine

Re:Interesting Discovery (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46974169)

The problem here is that the Nickel doesn't change composition, it just sits in the plant like any other mineral. Now if there were a plant that could do what you describe and use the radiation in some way that makes it less or eliminates the radioactivity would be nice.

Re:Interesting Discovery (2)

Ken McE (599217) | about 4 months ago | (#46974361)

Now if we could only find plants to leech radioactive particles for both Japan and Ukraine

two problems: 1.) As the plant accumulates isotopes it will tend to irradiate itself. The better it works, the worse the problem.

2.) I'm not familiar with any biological processes that distinguish between isotopes. You'd need a suite of plants, each one a specialist at one or more elements, and you would bring in the appropriate plants for whatever you wanted to collect at a particular site. In fact you'd need multiple plants for each element, a wetland plant, a dryland plant, a warm weather plant, etc. You'd match them up with the geography of your various sites.

Re:Interesting Discovery (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about 4 months ago | (#46974651)

1) Then the question becomes, can the plant concentrate a useful amount of material before it dies? A lawn that needs to be mowed whenever it starts to wilt could be a wonderful way to remeditate an area. Or can it concentrate it in particular parts - for example a tree that concentrates radioactive isotopes in inedible fruit could be effective for cleaning deep-soil contamination.

2) Nor am I - yet there are nonetheless a few plants which appear to somehow manage to do so, I wish could remember more details beyond them existing and presenting a biological mystery.

Re:Interesting Discovery (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46975909)

IIRC, Boron is very susceptible to isotopic sorting by natural processes. That's why its atomic mass is usually specified to such a small level of precision compared to similar elements--it's average mass depends significantly on what you are using for a source.

A university in the bathroom? (2)

Nutria (679911) | about 4 months ago | (#46974133)

I know the Philippines are poor, but this is ridiculous!

Re:A university in the bathroom? (2)

Trepidity (597) | about 4 months ago | (#46974203)

Yeah that sounds pretty low-class. In rich countries we put our universities in sensible places, like the spa [wikipedia.org] .

A new way to mine nickel? (1)

mark_reh (2015546) | about 4 months ago | (#46974155)

Hmmmm.

Re:A new way to mine nickel? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46974291)

At 18,000ppm? You'd need a SHIT LOAD of these plants. I'd imagine several hundred tons of them to even get a meager return.

Re:A new way to mine nickel? (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about 4 months ago | (#46974753)

18,000ppm=1.8%, versus 1-2% for common nickel ores. Not too bad.

And that is presumably before you dry the leaves, which since most plants are ~75% water would quadruple the concentration to 7.2% nickel.

Re:A new way to mine nickel? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46975787)

Elemental analysis is usually done against dry weight.

A nickel eating species... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46974219)

Yeah, those parking meters in New York sure are...what are we talking about again?

Re:A nickel eating species... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46974389)

Nickels? No, Quarters and DOLLAR BILLS!!!
Dolla Dolla bill, y'all

Lead author? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46974237)

Weren't we talking about nickel? I'm confused...

For those wondering about dimes and quarters... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46974239)

Pennies [wikipedia.org] are the only current US coins that are safe from the plant. They're 97.5% zinc and 2.5% copper.
Nickels [wikipedia.org] have the most to lose, since they're 75% copper and 25% nickel.
Dimes [wikipedia.org] , quarters [wikipedia.org] , half dollars [wikipedia.org] are 91.67% copper and 8.33% nickel.
Sacagawea dollars [wikipedia.org] are 88.5% copper, 6% zinc, 3.5% manganese and 2% nickel.

Is it "eating," or "absorbing?" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46974249)

Does the nickel play a crucial role in the life processes of the plant, or does the plant simply absorb it without dying?

Re:Is it "eating," or "absorbing?" (1)

sillybilly (668960) | about 4 months ago | (#46975635)

For whatever reason the plant seems to accumulate it. However I always maintain some skepticism, I don't just believe everything I read on the first read without duplicated literature backing it up. Even then it may be under special circumstances that it accumulates that much. Like I can dunk some dry hay into nickel sulfate, and do an analysis on it, and show that look, there is lots of nickel absorbed by the plant. Or even into a piece of paper towel. There are may ways to make mistakes and come up with hype like this.

Tiberium plants (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46974275)

eat your heart out.

About the author (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46974459)

They have a nickel plant and a lead author. Which is more impressive?

Re:About the author (1)

joelleo (900926) | about 4 months ago | (#46976867)

Jeebus he must weigh a LOT!!

Edwino Fernando, lead author of the report (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46974815)

i see what you did there!

First-glance misread (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 4 months ago | (#46977287)

"Scientists Discover Nickel-Eating Planet-Spiders"

It's been done before (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46978487)

http://earthfix.opb.org/flora-and-fauna/article/how-a-nickel-mining-scheme-brought-an-invasive-flo/

In the US, those are called Democrats (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46978565)

Nickle eating plants have existed in the US for awhile. They are commonly referred to as Democrats. There is a sub-species of this plant called Progressives that are much more invasive and eat all the dimes. Together, they are nickle and diming the US to death.

The "Lead" author stated... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46979973)

Need I say more?

What about a Nickel-Cadmium eating plant? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46979993)

Grow yer own batteries! Seeds 50 cents!

Patent nonsense (1)

Martin S. (98249) | about 4 months ago | (#46980033)

There are hundred of natural [a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyperaccumulator"]Hyper-Accumulators[/a]

However active use of these is blocked by patent e.g. http://www.google.co.uk/patent... [google.co.uk]

overlooking a use? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46983625)

think a more viable use would be to grow the plants on industrial site polluted with nickel who knows maybe this planet will absorb metals ingeneral and not just nickel-the post didnt mention how it incorporates the nickel in the leaves.

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