Raina Maier
Tomasz Wlodarczyk, Alicja Babst-Kostecka,
Identifying drought adapted, native metal hyperaccumulating plants, and optimizing their phytoextraction potential in the Santa Cruz River Valley region.
Southeastern Arizona, including the upper valley of the Santa Cruz River, has one of the most diverse mining localities in the state. Mine wastes at many legacy mine sites in this region are sources and sinks of toxic heavy metals and they directly cause the ecological, economic, and social damage. A new, transformative strategy via interdisciplinary collaborative efforts is urgently needed to drive a wedge between an unsafe and altered environment and the natural ecosystem including its native inhabitants. We propose a series of field surveys and greenhouse experiments, to perform screening of elemental concentration of plants growing naturally on legacy mine sites across the Southeastern Arizona. By identifying native plants that accumulate high concentrations of metals into their leaves, we will not only be able to accelerate the development of “green” remediation techniques at the impacted lands across Santa Cruz River valley, but also greatly contribute to our ongoing efforts towards developing a new generation of “eco”-catalysts – so far not addressed in the Santa Cruz Valley region – by returning the extracted heavy metals to supply chain. Further, we see this research as the initial step to create the socio-ecological infrastructure in the upper valley of the Santa Cruz River region. We anticipate that in longer time perspective our findings and contribution to development of novel technologies will stimulate local communities on an economic level, by creating new job opportunities in plant-based technological operations towards overall landscape enhancement.
Type de projet
Projet OHM
OHM(s) concerné(s)
  • Pima County
Biochimie, Biologie, Écologie, Écologie de la santé, Écophysiologie


Dr. Raina Maier, Professor of Environmental Microbiology, has leveraged her position as Director of the UA SRP and interim Director of the University of Arizona (UA) Institute of the Environment to engage a variety of stakeholders to raise the profile of the UA SRP both inside and outside the university. Dr. Maier founded the UA Center for Environmentally Sustainability Mining in 2011, an entity that has flourished and serves as an information conduit for communities, regulators, and the mining industry. In addition, Dr. Maier directs an internationally recognized laboratory that performs cutting-edge research in the area of bio- and phyto-remediation of hazardous contaminants in soil, waste streams, and mining wastes. She has over 140 publications, three patents, and was lead author on the first two editions of the “Environmental Microbiology” textbook.


Tomasz,Alicja Wlodarczyk,Babst-Kostecka
Tomasz Wlodarczyk is a PhD student in the Department of Environmental Science at the University of Arizona. In his research he applies Synchrotron-based imaging techniques to investigate the metal trace element accumulation and allocation within tissues of drought-resistant hyperaccumulating plants. This research will enhance our understanding of strategies and mechanisms underlaying heavy metal tolerance and uptake by plant species that are native to the arid lands of Arizona.
Tomasz,Alicja Wlodarczyk,Babst-Kostecka
Dr. Alicja Babst-Kostecka is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Environmental Science at the University of Arizona. She has devoted her scientific career to generating and advancing the fundamental knowledge required to improve environmental and human health in industrially polluted regions. Building on her background in evolutionary ecology, she studies plant adaptation to environmental stress. One of her research foci has been the identification of the genetic and physiological changes that plants undergo in response to soil contamination with industrial pollutants. Her work combines genetic, phenotypic, demographic, and environmental information in an integrated framework that encompasses the full plant-soil continuum at different scales (lab to field). Dr. Babst-Kostecka leads a seven-member research team that works on the above mentioned topics in collaboration with Swiss, French, and US partners.