Rhizofiltration and Rhizodegradation – Helping Nature Do His Thing part 3 – JP035

From PNW, to South Korea, from Silver Spring to Charlotte we discuss these two different techniques for cleaning and building healthy black soils!

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edase Paa   ߡߍߘߊߛߋ ߔߊ
Modupe O
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Transcript (automated)


I am Mason Olonade and this is Jìgìjìgì: Africulture Podcast. Here we believe building a healthy soil builds a healthy soul, so we share strategies for how to do both. To do both we ask two questions: How do you grow while you grow Kale, Collards, Tomatoes, and Melons. And why, do you think, the healthiest soils are Black?

Rhizofiltration and Rhizodegradation – Helping Nature Do His Thing part 3

Rhizofiltration is when contaminants are bound to the surface, or immobilized within the Root tissue by chemical action, usually precipitated or mineralized as a salt.

Rhizodegradation happens within the rhizosphere, or root zone, of the topsoil structure. Bacteria, yeasts, and fungi transform contaminants into basic phytochemicals. Rhizodegradation by fungi is called mycoremediation.

I first came upon these concepts, and rhizodegradation especially, as many others have, by learning about Paul Stamets. Specifically his experiment discussed in the documentary Mushrooms as Planetary Healers.

Excerpt from video

Of course you remember the free masters thesis project I gave you all in episode 33. In that experiment we discussed the Papyrus removing the levonorgestrel out of the water by phytoextraction, but as the paper also states “Additionally, mineralization on root zone epidermis played an important role in the reduction of LNG in water.” That is rhizofiltration in one sentence.

In the same way that the Oyster mushrooms Paul Stamets described can break down polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons can also be the case for various pharmaceuticals. To prove that hypothesis, that plants can indeed filter water for pharmaceutical compounds and return either non-toxic phytochemicals or basic molecular compounds, the rhizofiltration and phytoextraction would have to be proven, followed by a rhizodegradation of the human-digested compounds. These compounds would all have to be isolated, quantified and assayed for their supposed non-toxicity of course, but if you choose the right lab, buying the kits to perform the tests for you is no problem! Even better, with the even better lab, they’ll have equipment to perform the experiment, and do the analysis for you!

As the plants live and die the fungi will be busy colonizing the substrate and gathering taste information of its new food present on the plant roots and within the decomposing structures. Once they have acclimated their tastebuds they will begin transforming these compounds into the phyto-hormones and other basic, non-toxic chemicals. At this point the subtrate and bioremediation apparatus will start contributing to the environment as a whole, functioning as a cleansing island in the middle of a stream, much in the way that Stamets described with his oyster oil mound.

Let’s discuss three other plants that you may be familiar with that are extremely interesting and efficient rhizofilters.

Drs. M. Lee and M. Yang of Pukyong National University in South Korea published in 2010 “Rhizofiltration using sunflower and bean to remediate uranium containing groundwater.” The authors have shown that in the experimental setups, and in groundwater samples, sunflowers and beans were able to reduce the concentration of Uranium contamination by 70%. Dropping the pH of the water to a range between 3-5 increased the efficiency to over 90%.

The paper, included in the show notes, shows an electronmicroscopy photo of the deposited uranium on the surface of the Sunflower root. They confirmed their hypothesized uranium deposit with an Energy Dispersive X-Ray Spectrometer analysis. The analysis showed a huge spike corresponding to the detection of uranium. All of these results were generated within a timeframe of 80 hours, which is about three and a third days.

Another interesting study, quite related to the free thesis has a clever title. “A prescription for drug-free rivers” was published in 2018. In this study, using a simple hydroponic system that many use to grow food, the authors found that Sandbar Willow can uptake, translocate, or precipitate the radioactively tagged pharmaceuticals, diltiazem (blood pressure, anti-hypertensive), diazepam (Valium, anti-anxiety), Ethinylestradiol (birth control), and Atrazine, a pesticide. Interestingly, all compounds were taken up into the plants except for estradiol, which was bound to the roots. Who knows, maybe additional fungi, which could withstand an aqueous environment, could degrade the compound as we previously mentioned? I’d definitely like to see those studies in the future.

Part of what is so exciting about the entire concept of Bioremediation is its amazing efficiency at such a low cost. On my personal instagram page I shared, in the early part of the pandemic, that I was able to cultivate a second flush of oyster mushrooms in the fridge, and get them to fruit after adding coffee grounds to their plastic container. Later after they began to grow through the grounds I added them to a bucket that’d contained even more coffee grounds, a little bit of worm and BSF castings, to seed the composting and all of our vegetable wastes. I checked on it about 3 weeks later and saw the very beginnings of the established oyster mushrooms heads! Siblings of the soil may now fully understand my excitement behind the Shrooms in my bucket episode.

Since just after my Solar Return I’ve been volunteering at the Seeds for Change Farm within the Three Sisters Market Cooperative in the West Blvd Corridor of Charlotte, NC. To be working with the youth is a great honor and it is my privilege to share my understandings gathered so far to the young black men and women.

What a surprise it was in turn to open up that bucket of compost and oyster mushrooms four months later and pull out clods of soil with mycelial streaks! I was so happy! My happiness then knew no bounds when I broke the clods, you may remember here at Jigijigi we say, Friends don’t let friends Clod Soils, and in both halves of the clods were full of mycelia!

Although the bucket smelled despicable my joy plunged my hand into the depths of that bucket, unearthing that Oyster Funk into Charlotte. I tried to check last Saturday on it to see what had happen since I moved it all around but I was excused off of the premises by a perturbed honey bee sting. The Tears of Ra.

I think that this experiment I have been conducting has profound implications for the development of ENI/ANF. I think, with purchasing say 15-20 of those oyster mushroom trays and repeating the exact same steps could yield many cultures of oysters, especially if grown on samples of the soil we wish to remediate, that could rhizodegrade the contaminants that are present in the soil with very little cost. Especially if we worked stepwise around the contaminated area, within 1 season, with Sunflowers, certain brassicas, and legumes, the plants could entirely clean sections of the plot and build soil at the same time!

We have one more episode within the Bioremediation series. After then we will return to more interviews and of course, more wonderful information that will compel you to share Jigijigi with your friends, family and closely related siblings of the soil. Leave us a 5 star review wherever you listen to and we will say then as we say now, Asante Sana, Medase Pa, Modupe O. Thank you, for listening, to Jigijigi. Peace.