The goal of the project is to explore the molecular mechanisms of the interaction between willows accumulating heavy metal and the associated microorganisms. The results should lead to the development of efficient land reclamation measures (phytoextraction).
Plants that are able to absorb and store high concentrations of heavy metals from the soil are a cost-effective and environmentally sound way of reclaiming contaminated soil. By studying willows growing in contaminated and not-contaminated locations, a genetic profile for heavy metal absorption is to be created. As absorption capacity is influenced not only by the plants themselves but also by the microorganisms (bacteria and fungi) associated with their roots, these interactions will be studied at the molecular level. Finally the results will be tested in a pot trial with young willow plants.