Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Delta bulrush plant could help ease oil spill crisis, botanist says

Date:
June 29, 2010
Source:
The Academy of Natural Sciences
Summary:
A botanist who first profiled and named the delta bulrush says the plant has natural properties that could help reduce the impact of the Gulf oil spill on the Mississippi delta.

Dr. Alfred Ernest Schuyler, curator emeritus of botany at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia says the delta bulrush could help ease the Gulf oil spill crisis. Schuyler, a prominent botanist who first profiled and then named the delta bulrush, says the plant has natural properties that could help reduce the impact of the spill on the Mississippi delta. He is urging all sides involved in the crisis to give this slender sedge family member a hard look as they weigh their spill-fighting strategies. Schuyler, holding the type specimen from the Academy's botany collection, described and named Scirpus deltarum, now known as Schoenoplectus deltarum.
Credit: Katie Clark/ANSP

A prominent botanist at the Academy of Natural Sciences who first profiled and then named the delta bulrush says the plant has natural properties that could help reduce the impact of the Gulf oil spill on the Mississippi delta.

Related Articles


Dr. Alfred Ernest Schuyler, the Academy's curator emeritus of botany, is urging all sides involved in the crisis to give this slender sedge family member a hard look as they weigh their spill-fighting strategies.

Schuyler described and named Scirpus deltarum, now known as Schoenoplectus deltarum the delta bulrush, in 1970 after doing field research in the Mississippi delta. Based on the detoxification properties of similar bulrush species, Schuyler thinks the delta bulrush could be instrumental in decomposing the oil and reducing its impact on other threatened marsh plants.

He says a close relative of the delta bulrush, the common three-square (Schoenoplectus pungens), can transmit oxygen to underwater microorganisms capable of decomposing oil. "Presumably, the closely-related delta bulrush can do the same thing," Schuyler explains.

Schuyler says the fascinating marsh plant he named more than three decades ago now urgently deserves further study of its potential to decompose oil.

Abundant in the Mobile, Mississippi, and Atchafalaya deltas, plants such as the delta bulrush will be the first that the oil will encounter, and may act as a buffer for the rest of the wetlands, says Schuyler.

"Bulrushes are environmental workhorses, effectively used in sewage lagoons to purify water," Schuyler explains. "Air cavities in the stems transport oxygen to underwater portions of the plants, making the oxygen available to microbes capable of decomposing pollutants in the sewage." He theorizes that this same capacity to decompose pollutants in sewage most likely would come into play in decomposing some chemicals in the oil, thereby reducing the impact of the spill to the delta area.

"Bulrushes are also more tolerant of oil than many other marsh plants. This suggests that the delta bulrush will persist regardless of the oil and continue to stabilize the marshes in the delta," Schuyler says.

Schuyler says it is too soon to estimate how much oil is too much for the delta bulrushes.

"I hope we don't get to find out, but based on my experience, I think these plants can tolerate a lot of oil," he says. If the oil were to cover the plants, Schuyler recommends harvesting them just below the oil line. "This will protect waterfowl from the oil and also will allow regrowth from their basal portions," adding that the bulrush seeds can be removed from the harvested plants and put back into the substrate.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by The Academy of Natural Sciences. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

The Academy of Natural Sciences. "Delta bulrush plant could help ease oil spill crisis, botanist says." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 June 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100628112111.htm>.
The Academy of Natural Sciences. (2010, June 29). Delta bulrush plant could help ease oil spill crisis, botanist says. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 6, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100628112111.htm
The Academy of Natural Sciences. "Delta bulrush plant could help ease oil spill crisis, botanist says." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100628112111.htm (accessed March 6, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Friday, March 6, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

'Extinct' Bird Isn't Extinct At All, Scientists Find

'Extinct' Bird Isn't Extinct At All, Scientists Find

Buzz60 (Mar. 6, 2015) — Scientists rediscover a bird thought to be extinct, so we may be able to cross it off the "Gone For Good" list. Sean Dowling (@seandowlingtv) has more details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
China's Toxic Truth Goes Viral

China's Toxic Truth Goes Viral

Reuters - Business Video Online (Mar. 6, 2015) — Pollution in China has gone viral with a documentary highlighting the problems caused by major industries. But awareness may not be enough to clean up dirty producers. Jane Lanhee Lee reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Lack of Snow Pushes Alaska Sled Dog Race North

Lack of Snow Pushes Alaska Sled Dog Race North

AP (Mar. 6, 2015) — A shortage of snow has forced Alaska&apos;s Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race to move 300 miles north to Fairbanks. The ceremonial start through downtown Anchorage will take place this weekend, using snow stockpiled earlier this winter. (March 6) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Why Were El Niño Predictions So Far Off Base?

Why Were El Niño Predictions So Far Off Base?

Newsy (Mar. 5, 2015) — Weather agencies say an El Niño event is officially underway, but they called for it months ago and warned it would be way stronger than it is. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins