Plant that ‘Eats’ Nickel Discovered in Philippines

Plant that ‘Eats’ Nickel
  • London: Scientists have discovered a new plant species in the Philippines with an unusual trait — it eats nickel for a living.
  • The plant can accumulate up to 18,000 ppm (parts per million) of the metal in its leaves without itself being poisoned. This amount is a hundred to a thousand times higher than that found in most other plants.
  • The new species, discovered by scientists from the University of the Philippines, Los Banos, has been named Rinorea niccolifera, reflecting its ability to absorb nickel in very large quantities.
  • Nickel hyperaccumulation is a rare phenomenon with only about 0.5-1% of plant species native to nickel-rich soils having been recorded to exhibit the ability, the researchers said.
  • Throughout the world, only about 450 species are known to have this unusual trait, which is still a small proportion of the estimated 300,000 species of vascular plants.
  • The species, according to Marilyn Quimado, one of the lead scientists of the research team, was discovered on the western part of Luzon Island, known for its metal-rich soil.

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