Mulware, Stephen Juma
The use of nuclear microprobe techniques including: Particle induced x-ray emission (PIXE) and Rutherford backscattering spectrometry (RBS) for elemental analysis and quantitative elemental imaging of biological samples is especially useful in biological and biomedical research because of its high sensitivity for physiologically important trace elements or toxic heavy metals. The nuclear microprobe of the Ion Beam Modification and Analysis Laboratory (IBMAL) has been used to study the enhancement in metal uptake of two different plants. The roots of corn (Zea mays) have been analyzed to study the enhancement of iron uptake by adding Fe (II) or Fe (III) of different concentrations to the germinating medium of the seeds. The Fe uptake enhancement effect produced by lacing the germinating medium with carbon nanotubes has also been investigated. The aim of this investigation is to ensure not only high crop yield but also Fe-rich food products especially from calcareous soil which covers 30% of world’s agricultural land. The result will help reduce iron deficiency anemia, which has been identified as the leading nutritional disorder especially in developing countries by the World Health Organization. For the second plant, Mexican marigold (Tagetes erecta), the effect of an arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (Glomus intraradices) for the improvement of lead-phytoremediation of lead contaminated soil has been investigated. Phytoremediation provides an environmentally safe technique of removing toxic heavy metals (like lead), which can find their way into human food, from lands contaminated by human activities like mining or by natural disasters like earthquakes. The roots of Mexican marigold have been analyzed to study the role of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi in enhancement of lead uptake from the contaminated rhizosphere.
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