Plants that have evolved biological mechanisms to resist, tolerate or even thrive in toxic metallic environments have enormous potential for use in Australian revegetation science, according to a leading soil scientist at The University of Western Australia.
Professor Mark Tibbett, Director of the Centre of Land Rehabilitation at UWA, said little was known about the biodiversity of the native plants, known as metallophytes.
"We also don't know very much about what genetic resource base is available for development of remediation, rehabilitation and further use of the unique traits of these plants," Professor Tibbett said.
"At the same time, these plants may be under threat from the activities of the minerals industry as they often mark zones of mineralised geology.
"Metallophytes offer an opportunity to bring together the needs of the resource industry with botany as these plants may be extremely useful for industry and the wider community."
Professor Tibbett last week brought together world experts from a diverse range of disciplines, including key people in the Western Australian resource sector, for a three-day workshop at UWA.
The workshop, sponsored by the Institute of Advanced Studies, aimed to develop a framework for the identification, assessment, conservation and exploitation of metallophyte plants from a global perspective.